The first ever US-Africa Leaders Summit, being held in Washington DC, is well underway. On August 4th, the ‘Investing in Health: Investing in Africa’s Future’ Signature Event brought together senior US government officials, African leaders, Ministers of Health and senior policymakers to envision the future of US-African global health partnerships.
Continuing with the themes presented by GE Healthcare CEO John Dineen at the summit, Farid Fezoua, President and CEO of GE Healthcare Africa, delivered a keynote speech before the National Academy of Science’s Symposium on Science, Technology and Innovation for Economic Growth and Development in Africa.
The Symposium included keynote speeches from several policymakers and leaders from academia and the private and public sectors of African healthcare. Present alongside Fezoua were South Africa’s Minister of Science and Technology, Honorable Grace Pandor; Margareta Wahlstrom, Under Secretary of the UN International Strategy for Disaster Risk; and Wole Soboyejo, President of the Africa University of Science and Technology in Nigeria.
Fezoua took the opportunity to reiterate GE Healthcare’s solid background of work in Africa that has been successfully developing for the past 100 years, citing efforts to serve as a partner to public and private sector healthcare provider in the development and modernization of healthcare infrastructure, tackle the growing burden of non-communicable disease and maternal and infant health and to support sustainable healthcare development in Nigeria, Algeria, Egypt and Kenya and across the continent.
“As of 2013, we have invested $4.2 billion [globally and in Africa] with 100 validated product-innovations, touching more than 1.5 billion lives.”
Fezoua touched on GE’s ‘reverse innovation’ strategy for the development of tailor-made technology for the developing world, and highlighted the importance of continued health system development in Africa, which is seeing some of the fastest economic growth in the world.
“In a continent where the healthcare needs are so vast, the potential for science, technology and innovation to accelerate sustainable healthcare development in Africa is unprecedented,” he said. “It is indeed an exciting time for healthcare development in Africa. For all of us this represents a significant opportunity to invest, partner and solve.”
In his closing statements to the Symposium, Fezoua shared some key lessons learned from a century of work with African healthcare providers and NGOs.
“Start by looking at how things get done,” he said. “Understand the issues – what’s working well, what’s not, and why?”
“Always consider the entire care pathway and delivery model – nothing exists in isolation.”
“Don’t hesitate to partner with the private sector or with industry,” he concluded. “Join forces to incubate ideas or to establish a pathway for collaboration.”