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Bringing pride back to the community




JJ van dongen

Innovation is not simply about technology. It’s about turning idealistic concepts into practical solutions and using innovative techniques to transform society in meaningful ways. That is why I believe that Philips’ Community Life Center is the type of innovation that will positively impact many generations to come.

The Githurai-Lang’ata Health Center on the outskirts of Nairobi in Kenya used to be ill-equipped, understaffed and poorly regarded by the community. Now- after months of planning, refurbishment and training overseen by Philips and its partners- it is a beacon of hope. It provides much-needed primary healthcare services that save lives and eases the burden placed on city hospitals.


It’s a place where, assisted by the latest ultrasound equipment in well-staffed antenatal units, expecting parents can, for the first time in their life, see their future baby grow and know if the pregnancy is progressing well. New mothers can consult clinical officers in a clean, welcoming environment and families with a range of ailments can benefit from 21st century diagnostic medical tools.


So it’s little wonder then that, since reopening its doors in October, the health center has seen an astonishing 1,300% rise in visitors. Daily, babies are now born in the clinic under the supervision of the clinic staff.


Few people used to visit the Githurai-Lang’ata Health Center but now the facilities are so good that they come from great distances. It has been transformed from a gathering place for vagrants to a bustling hub of activity. These are the real-world effects of such an innovative infrastructure. A despondent community has grown proud.


Although the Center was transformed with Philips’ technical know-how, it is fully run, maintained and staffed by local government personnel. The sense of pride felt by staff and patients is perhaps the CLC’s greatest achievement. They see this place as something that they own and must protect. It truly is infrastructure that strengthens the community.


The impact of the CLC extends far beyond its obvious health benefits. It has become a hub for the community. It’s a place for families to gather, for children to do their homework under solar-powered LED lights, for commercial activities to take place in a safe environment and for charities to raise awareness around health issues.

Bringing pride back to community

The CLC shows how Philips is changing as a company. We no longer rely upon selling equipment in boxes. We supply solutions and services that bring sustainable improvement to people’s lives. Customers don’t want to buy the best medical equipment but they do want to have access to it. The market is changing and we need to stay one step ahead of it.


We are wholly dedicated to the success of the CLC. The site is constantly monitored and supported. We train staff in using the new technology and remotely monitor the systems and processes in place at the facility. We’ve also established a 24 hour hotline so that we can be contacted at any moment.


Sustainability has been central to the project. Solar power has provided the Center with reliable, clean energy. An efficient and durable LED lighting infrastructure has both increased security and enabled longer opening hours. The CLC even has its own clean water supply, the only source of clean water for 50,000 people in the area. The water is sold to the community at favorable prices bringing income to sustain the Center.


The enormous success of this pilot project is compelling evidence that such schemes, in partnership with governmental and private partners, can be replicated throughout Africa and in other parts of the world where deprived communities need a helping hand. If the infrastructure is already in place and simply needs a show of leadership and technological expertise, a similar facility could be ready in a matter of weeks.


Innovation is the lifeblood of a company like Philips. The CLC demonstrates an integrated model of healthcare that conjoins technology with services and inspires an entire community to change the way it sees and looks after itself. That’s precisely the kind of innovation that can revolutionize society.


The Community Life Centre was developed by the Philips Africa Innovation Hub in collaboration with the County Government of Kiambu in Kenya.

JJ van dongen

JJ van Dongen

Senior Vice President and Market Leader – Philips Africa & Country CEO – Philips South Africa

Mr. Van Dongen is qualified in the area of Nuclear Science having worked with the former Atomic Energy Corporation of South Africa prior to joining the healthcare industry. His background in physics and mathematics has allowed him a strong understanding of the use of technology in hospitals of both the private and government sectors.


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