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Partnering to Ensure Sustainable Healthcare for All by 2030

 

 

We stand at a fairly critical juncture in the world today. In recent years we have reached incredible milestones: millions of people have been lifted out of extreme poverty in recent decades and 90% have access to a school education. But in healthcare we have a long way to go.

A radical transformation of health systems is needed to realize the goal of equitable access. Despite good strides being made in reducing common killers associated with child and maternal mortality, a lot still needs to be done. Still more than 800 women die daily from preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth, 99% of them occurring in developing countries: more than 50% of these in sub-Saharan Africa and almost one third occur in South Asia.

 

Of the 5.9 million children under the age of five who died in 2015 – more than 20,000 per day - almost 3 million of them were newborns.

 

Those are unacceptable numbers and there are many reasons for this. In emerging economies many primary health facilities lack basic infrastructure, such as adequate buildings and a reliable supply of clean water and electricity. There is a lack of qualified and motivated healthcare workers, and the different levels of care are not properly connected.

 

Primary health facilities are hardly making use of medical technology, data isn’t being shared and governments are struggling to financially sustain their public healthcare system. Healthcare expenses can throw entire families into a vicious circle of poverty.

 

Overcoming healthcare challenges

The mechanism in place to address these problems, Sustainable Development Goal 3, which aims for ‘Good Health and Well-being’, is part of an agenda to ensure that "no one is left behind." This goal is the Northern star towards the betterment of millions of lives around the world: a clear compass and a shared agenda which looks at people-focused needs.

 

Strengthening healthcare must start with primary healthcare for people in individual communities. Creating new ways of delivering care where it’s needed will build stronger and more resilient communities and make healthcare much more accessible and affordable to people at the right point in time. It also reduces the burden on emergency and acute care – which is a persistent challenge in all health systems.

 

As a company with a long track record of innovating to improve peoples’ lives we believe development challenges can be overcome through working together in partnerships. We believe there are three critical ingredients to ensure the implementation of SDG 3:
 

  • Delivering innovative digital health technologies and services appropriate for low resource settings;
  • Partnerships, which are instrumental to the implementation of the new sustainable development agenda, to achieve scale and improve efficiency;
  • Putting in place new financing mechanisms and business models based on shared-values.

Locally driven action

There are good examples to support this kind of approach. We created an Africa Innovation Hub in 2014 to provide “Innovation in Africa, with Africans for Africans”.

 

This starts from the foundation we established in the local community – understanding local needs is critical – and involved co-creating solutions in partnerships, in particular with local governments, resulting in the development of diagnostic devices such as the Children’s Automated Respiratory Monitor Device (ChARM), the Wind-Up Fetal Doppler, the Community Life Center (CLC), etc.

 

In 2014, Philips opened its first Community Life Center in Kenya, a country with an abnormally high maternal death rate with 488 deaths per 100,000 live births.

 

The whole development process to encourage community ownership involved the entire community - health workers, government at national and local level and humanitarian partners. Through renting out space for commercial services, the facility generates revenues, contributing to its financial sustainability.

 

In less than one year, we have witnessed 4,000 people a month seeking care at the facility, up from 1,000 a month previously, many of these pregnant women and children.

 

Last month, Philips and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) announced plans to implement Kenya’s second “Community Life Centre” in Mandera, a County in North-Eastern Kenya with one of the world’s highest maternal mortality ratio - 3,795 per 100,000 live births.

 

Shared value, creating partnerships

So much can be achieved with the new technologies we have today - entire healthcare systems can leapfrog their current state and expand access to care to millions more people. Thanks to the digital revolution, we can do what was previously unthinkable -- improve patient outcomes and lower healthcare costs in emerging economies.

 

Companies like ours can make a substantial contribution to Sustainable Healthcare for All: we have the capabilities, competencies and the ability to scale and innovate. Partnerships between public and private sector, civil society and academia are instrumental tools for achieving scale and improving efficiency. They will enable us to address both healthcare and social challenges collectively, scaling and widening access to health innovation.

 

It is our shared obligation to provide access to healthcare and appropriate healthcare to all at all ages. The private sector will drive and be part of this momentum, because it's good for people, it's good for the planet and it's good for business. This is not about philanthropy — it’s about innovating the business model of healthcare that will lead to shared-value. Only then does the radical transformation and development become sustainable.

Ronald de Jong


Executive Vice President, Chief Market Leader and member of the Executive Committee

Ronald de Jong joined Philips in 1990. He held a number of positions in Supply and Service Operations and Supply Chain Management before becoming Managing Director and Member of the Board of Philips GmbH in Hamburg in 2004.

 

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