Finally some innovation drivers in the health space: Launch of the Private Sector Health Alliance of Nigeria

Our friend and colleague; Dr Femi Sunmonu, Director of PurpleSource Healthcare, a healthcare management and investment company transforming the mass market private healthcare space in Nigeria recently attended the launch of Private Sector Health Alliance of Nigeria. These are his reflections…..

I recently attended the inauguration of the Private Sector Health Alliance of Nigeria (PHN) in Lagos two weeks ago. It was launched by Bill Gates and the patrons of the Alliance to contribute to the SAVING ONE MILLION LIVES  movement. Its goals are to advance progress in meeting the health Millenium Development Goals  (MDGs) by focusing on innovation, partnerships, advocacy and impact investments. Some eyes may already have begun to glaze over as yet another platform promises to catapult Nigerians into a new age of equitable, affordable, quality healthcare just in time for Christmas.

This however is NOT one of those organisations. This is a Private sector-led effort inaugurated by Industry Stalwarts like Aliku Dangote & Jim Ovia, and headed by young, driven professionals at the top of their respective fields. Their CV’s are impressive; entrepreneurs, PHD’s, and Management Consultants who have demonstrated the an ability to deliver results in their respective professions. The highly regarded former Minister of State for Health in Nigeria, Dr Muhammad Pate is joint leader of the alliance. The primary agenda of the PHN is to embrace innovation in all its forms to not only meet the health-related millennium Development Goals but to progress beyond them.

Private Sector Health Alliance of Nigeria

“Innovation”; what really is that you may be asking. One example illustrated below is that the organisation has already made strides towards their goals by partnering with the telecoms industry to utilise the excess power generated at transmission towers to strengthen nearby health facility vaccine cold chain infrastructure. Similarly it has joined forces with the pharmaceutical industry to leverage their supply chain infrastructure to augment primary healthcare systems in select states.

The PHN has also committed to innovation by creating a health innovation marketplace that will serve as a platform for all things innovative in health. It intends to open a health innovation challenge with cash rewards to fund winning participant’s programs. Independent of this competition, the platform will also serve as funding mechanism for healthcare innovations. In addition, a newly created innovation hub will provide physical space to support selected innovators with infrastructure (internet, data, labs, office space) and support nurture a community of innovators in Nigeria.

Hopefully you are all more awake now. Finally, we may be seeing some of the innovation that has driven rapid growth in the other sectors of the economy engage with the challenges in the Nigerian health sector. I wrote a few years ago about the promise I saw in a private-public partnership  approach to solving the health issues plaguing the country. This appears to be that promise on steroids.  Perhaps we may be done by Christmas after all.  Watch this space.!

 Dr Femi Sunmonu, is Director of PurpleSource Healthcare, a healthcare management and investment company transforming the mass market private healthcare space in Nigeria.

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed people can change the world; indeed it is the only thing that ever has…Margaret Mead

Chikwe Ihekweazu is an epidemiologist and consultant public health physician. He is the Editor of Nigeria Health Watch, and the Managing Partner of EpiAfric (, which provides expertise in public health research and advisory services, health communication and professional development. He previously held leadership roles at the South African National Institute for Communicable Diseases and the UK's Health Protection Agency. Chikwe has undertaken several short term consultancies for the World Health Organisation, mainly in response to major outbreaks. He is a TED Fellow and co-curator of TEDxEuston.

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