Africa Health Congress: Highlights from Day 2

Over 10,000 visitors descended on Gallagher Estate in Johannesburg today for day two of Africa Health, Africa’s largest health exhibition. The 18 academic conferences taking place at the event on key topics affecting healthcare today are being addressed by a faculty of the industry’s finest minds and are equipping visitors with the knowledge and skills to improve health systems in Africa.

This event, which has an exhibition of over 600 of the world’s most prominent health organisations will provide health leaders, executives and professionals from across Africa the opportunity to gain hands-on exposure to new technologies and advances in healthcare, and in turn, benefit from these new relationships.

Healthcare – a growing market

Estimated to be worth $372 billion by 2022, India’s healthcare market is becoming increasingly important in the demand for affordable healthcare. Its support of Africa Health over the past years has demonstrated tangible benefits for the companies themselves and for healthcare in Africa.

“We are proud that 45 companies from India are participating in this prestigious event and we believe that Africa Health is an important forum to help people connect and to promote the health, pharma and hospital sectors. I believe that India has a large role to play in the future of healthcare in Africa,” said Dr K J Srinivasa – Consul General of India in Johannesburg.

New to the exhibition is the Innovation Zone, which showcases South Africa’s novel approaches to solving sub-Saharan Africa’s healthcare challenges. Chairman of Medical Device Manufacturers South Africa, Marlon Burgess believes that this initiative provides impetus for innovation in the medical devices space in South Africa. “I think it is a great initiative and provides a forum where people can come together and collaborate on innovation of devices.”

Burgess stressed the importance of platforms like Africa Health in developing the local manufacturing of medical devices. “Currently in South Africa more than 90% of the products are imported and we have a huge opportunity to reverse that. To correct the balance of payment and to contribute to the growth of the economy through the medical devices sector.”

One of South Africa’s biggest success stories in driving innovation in healthcare and diagnostics, is Antrum Biotechnology, exhibiting at the newly introduced laboratory medicine exhibition, Medlab Africa.  Coming out of the Research Contracts & Innovation branch of the University of Cape Town, this company has developed a rapid diagnostic kit for extrapulmonary TB, which has resulted in improved patient outcomes though speeding up detection and therefore treatment of Pleural TB. 

 The Africa Health Exhibition will also play host to the launch of SafMed’s newest product in its already impressive array of decontamination, infection prevention and surgical products. The UV Box has been developed specifically to target mobile, handheld devices that are known agents of cross-contamination in hospitals and other healthcare facilities. The UV Box has been independently proven by an FDA consulting lab to disinfect 99.995% of the most difficult to treat contaminants, all in less than 60 seconds. 

 MD of SafMed, Rehana Ellahi, believes that Africa Health provides the perfect platform to launch their new product and to gain exposure into the African market. “Africa Health enables us to meet key customers from across the continent that we would not normally have the opportunity to meet.”

 Averting and preventing deadly outbreaks in Africa

One of the critical threats facing the continent is that of outbreaks such as Ebola. Weak health systems and a severe shortage of health resources, as experienced by many countries on the continent, mean that diseases are not diagnosed and treated quickly, causing a conducive environment for the spread of these often-deadly diseases.

Speaking at the Laboratory Medicine Conference, Professor Akin Abayomi, Head of Dept of Haematopathology at Tygerberg Hospital and Associate Prof of Haematology at the University of Stellenbosch told delegates that far from being contained, Ebola had now broken out in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) where 1,466 people were infected, resulting in 957 deaths; adding that political instability was preventing the treatment and containment of the outbreak. 

He cautioned that, “the destruction of the environment”, was a contributor to diseases like Lassa fever in Nigeria where wild rats, the carriers of the disease, were being forced into cities to find food, thereby causing the disease to spread.

Prof Aboyami stressed the ease with which deadly diseases like Ebola are spread and the importance for countries to put in biosecurity mechanisms in place to pre-empt and prevent biosecurity threats.

A commitment to charity

Each year, Africa Health demonstrates its commitment to building a healthy and effective society though contributing the proceeds of the conferences to a charity.  This year, Africa Health is delighted to be able to make contribution of R 605,000 to the Reach for a Dream Foundation, an organisation that inspires children to fight their life-threatening conditions through fulfilling their dreams.

Natalie Lazaris, Reach for a Dream’s Head of Business Development, believes that it is through events like Africa Health that they are able to meet doctors and nurses thereby getting to know more children to help. “It’s about broadening our network, getting our name out there and spreading awareness about what we do.”

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