Philips and AMREF (African Medical and Research Foundation) Flying Doctors, the largest health organization in Africa, today announced that they will work closely together in an innovative shared-valuepartnership model designed to bring about a structural improvement in the health care infrastructure and provision on the African continent. This long-term strategic partnership aims to support AMREF in achieving its social goals and will help Philips in its ambition to improve the lives of people in Africa, while at the same time realizing growth in this strongly emerging continent.
"In this innovative partnership, AMREF and Philips will contribute to better health care in Africa as well as trade between the Netherlands and Africa - a good example of how foreign aid and trade can together create added value," said Simon Smits, Director-General of Foreign Economic Relations, on behalf of Lilianne Ploumen, Dutch Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, at the signing ceremony of the partnership agreement.
The serious problems that Africa is facing include a large increase in the number of people suffering from non-communicable diseases (e.g. cancer, diabetes and heart disease), inadequately equipped medical facilities, and inadequately trained staff. These problems are creating a strong need for improved health care infrastructures. For example, a woman in sub-Saharan Africa is a hundred times more likely to die of an illness related to pregnancy or childbirth than a woman in the western world.
To support African governments in tackling these and other problems, AMREF and Philips will leverage their respective strengths. Their cooperation brings together deep knowledge of local authorities and local customs, habits and needs in various African countries. One of several African organizations with strong educational programs, AMREF has been active in Africa for over 55 years and is deeply rooted in rural areas and hospitals. Philips has been active in Africa for over 100 years and, as a leading company in the field of medical innovations, has extensive expertise in hospitals and health care systems, medical technology, healthcare services and the training of healthcare professionals.
AMREF and Philips will connect their respective networks and introduce new education and training programs designed specifically for health care professionals in Africa. In close cooperation with local stakeholders, both parties will strive to develop and implement large-scale projects to improve health care infrastructures and make health care more accessible to the local population.
"By joining forces in a new model of social enterprise, we at AMREF and Philips are convinced that we can help to solve many of the problems that beset health care in Africa, such as the high mortality rate among mothers and children and the acute shortage of medical personnel," said Jacqueline Lampe, CEO of AMREF. "For example, by introducing medical solutions that have been developed specifically for growth markets like Africa and with which we can help give patients better health care."
"To provide innovative solutions that can deal with the complexity of health care in Africa, Philips is taking a long-term approach aimed at close collaboration with local and international parties that have strong engagement in the issues," said Peter van de Ven, General Manager Philips Healthcare Africa. "By teaming up with AMREF, an internationally respected African health care organization, and with the support of the Dutch Ministry, we are convinced that we can work toward our goals of making a significant contribution to improving health care in Africa, expanding our activities for providing clinical and technical training to people, and growing Philips as an organization on the African continent."
Many African countries have a poor infrastructure (roads, telecommunications, electricity and water) and it is difficult to find well-trained and motivated personnel who are prepared to work in remote rural areas. Philips and AMREF will jointly seek ways of developing large-scale innovation projects in order to modernize the infrastructure, improve health care, and make it accessible in a region as a whole.
Philips has a long tradition of supporting ministries in large-scale national health care modernization projects. As part of such projects, Philips seeks to promote education and training for health care professionals through the provision of e-learning courses in numerous health care-related disciplines. The company has also set up partnerships with several universities throughout Africa in order to strengthen students' clinical and technical knowledge and expertise. AMREF is also committed to the provision of training through online e-learning.
The success of their initiatives is demonstrated by an increase in the number of nurses trained in Kenya from 100 to 7,000 per year, and higher scores by students in exams. AMREF is now providing a wide range of training courses for various professional groups, from members of staff in African ministries to the many volunteers (community health workers) who are deployed in Africa.