Enabling a Healthier Future for Women in Africa through Public-Private Partnerships
Opinion piece by Dr. Allan Pamba, Africa Network Lead at Roche Diagnostics and Kaushal Shah, Head of Health Strategy, AHB
Over the past two years, the COVID-19 pandemic revealed the stark health disparities that exist between countries around the world. It has also exposed and exacerbated the inequities within countries, particularly those facing women and children in low-and-middle-income countries (LMICs). A recent report from the UN revealed that in Africa the pandemic worsened inequalities between women and men, with services like maternal care and sexual and reproductive healthcare being negatively affected.
Even before COVID-19, women across Africa faced barriers throughout their health journey, with challenges ranging from a lack of access to hospitals to cultural roadblocks. The statistics around the impact these obstacles have on women’s health outcomes are alarming: As of 2020, breast cancer was the most diagnosed cancer in the world and the cause of the most cancer-related deaths for women. In Africa that translated to nearly 190,000 new breast cancer cases and more than 85,000 deaths in 2020 alone. Similarly, 19 of the 20 top countries with the highest cervical cancer rates in 2018 were in sub-Saharan Africa.
Fundamental to our approach is our commitment to collaboration and working with partners to support policies across the continent that prioritize women’s health, and particularly women’s cancers; educate women on the risk factors and symptoms associated with cervical and breast cancer; improve access to screening sites and early diagnosis; build local capacity in hospitals and clinics; and bring innovative treatments and diagnostics to Africa.
- In Kenya, 14 EMPOWER clinics focused on breast and cervical cancers were developed in collaboration with the County First Ladies Association, Africa Cancer Foundation, Women 4 Cancer and International Cancer Institute to provide awareness, system capacity, screening, diagnosis, treatment and education for Kenyan women.
- In Eswatini, we’re working with the Ministry of Health, other partners, and patient groups to co-create and implement a sustainable cervical cancer programme that will directly benefit more than 40,000 women. Eswatini is also one of the first countries we are collaborating with as part of the Go Further Partnership that aims to reduce new cervical cancer cases by 95 percent among women living with HIV. We hope this programme will be a model for 12 other countries in Africa covered by this partnership, including Botswana, Tanzania and Zimbabwe.
- In Mozambique, we are collaborating with the Ministry of Health, US government and other health partners to launch Project SALVA, as a holistic solution for cervical cancer screening and treatment.
Consider that with 4 billion women worldwide, 90 percent are a family’s healthcare decision maker . They are 70 percent of the health workforce and 75 percent more likely to use digital tools for health than men . And by increasing gender equality in the labor market, the Brookings Africa Growth Initiative found that African countries can increase their GDP anywhere between 1 and 50 percent.
A Women-Centered Approach to Integrated Care
Throughout a 125-year history, Roche has grown into one of the world’s largest biotech companies, as well as a leading provider of in-vitro diagnostics and a global supplier of transformative innovative solutions across major disease areas.
Learn more at: https://www.roche.com/
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About AHBS- Africa Women’s Health: The Role of the Private Sector in Advancing Women’s Health in Africa
AHB curated the Africa Health Business Symposium (AHBS) under the theme: The role of the private sector in advancing women’s health in Africa with the objective to prioritise, explore and strengthen the role of the private sector in advancing women’s health on the continent.
Learn more at: www.africahealthbusiness.com