Philips To Focus On Healthcare Needs Of Africa


Espicom View: In Kenya, as with other African nations, the demand for medical devices is high, as many healthcare facilities require modernisation. With its Africa Innovation Hub, Philips is poised to meet these needs. The Innovation Hub can work to develop devices that cater for the specific needs of people across the continent, using Kenya as its base.

Philips has established the Africa Innovation Hub in Nairobi, Kenya, which will focus on the development of new healthcare and consumer products for the African region, as well as bringing these products to market.

The Philips Africa Innovation Hub will conduct application-focused scientific and user studies to address key challenges, such as improving access to lighting and affordable healthcare, as well as developing innovations to meet the aspirational needs of the rising middle class in Africa. The hub will be located at Philips' East African Headquarters in Nairobi. Philips is in discussions with local organisations and universities on R&D collaborations to co-create meaningful solutions for Africa.

Some innovations that Philips was already working on have now become part of the Innovation Hub, hence, the Philips Africa Innovation Hub will begin with ventures that are under development as well as in the pilot phase. A few of these projects are detailed here:

Respiratory rate monitor for pneumonia diagnosis: Pneumonia is the global leading cause of death among children under the age of five, resulting in 1.1mn deaths worldwide annually, according to UNICEF and World Health Organization estimates. Of these, 99% of deaths occur in developing countries in low-resource settings, which typically entail rural areas with very limited or poor healthcare facilities or with low-skilled healthcare workers. The current diagnostic tools in such settings are believed to be difficult to use and can distract workers from an accurate conclusion, and thus lead to a poor diagnosis.

The Innovation Hub is working on the development and clinical testing of a robust and affordable automated respiratory rate monitor that aims to support the diagnosis of pneumonia among infants and children. The monitor will use smart sensing technology on the body, which is intended to be more accurate and reliable compared with manual processes currently being observed. This device will be specifically designed for use by community health workers and nurses in rural areas. Discussions are ongoing with the Kenya Medical Research Institute to further develop this project and co-create an effective solution tailored to circumstances in rural Africa.

Community care services: The development and testing of a work-flow innovation designed to reduce the number of avoidable maternal and child deaths. The purpose of the workflow is to enable remote area health centres to diagnose, triage, treat, stabilise and (prepare for) transport expectant mothers that come in for a check-up and treatment.

The Innovation Hub will also focus on the development of consumer products such as a smokeless cook stove and consumer lighting solutions. Additionally, while headquartered in Kenya, the Innovation Hub will be responsible for pan-African research and projects and will have operations across Africa, linked to the Philips regional offices across the continent. It will be headed by Dr Maarten van Herpen and will work in close collaboration with the Philips research laboratories in Bangalore, India; Shanghai, China; and Eindhoven, the Netherlands.

Kenyan Medical Device Market

Medical device expenditure in Kenya is expected to reach US$159.8mn in 2018, compared with US$100.0mn in 2013, according to Espicom estimates. This represents a compound annual growth rate of 9.8% over the 2013-2018 period.

According to Espicom's Q2 2014 Industry View on Kenya, in February, the Kenyan Ministry of Health allocated KES34bn (US$391.3mn) for the purchase of medical equipment in 94 public hospitals in the country. The machines will be distributed to two hospitals in each county. The purpose of equipping the hospitals is to enable patients to be treated for cancer, diabetes and heart conditions locally, rather than in India and South Africa, where 7,000 Kenyans seek treatment every year.

With its Innovation Hub located in the country, Philips will increase its established presence in Kenya, as well as in the wider African region, through development partnerships across the continent. As the Kenyan government seeks to upgrade its medical equipment, Philips' presence in the country will provide with leverage to negotiate significant supply agreements.

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Related sectors of this article: Medical Devices, Patient Aids, R&D - Medical Devices, MIW
Geography: Africa, Kenya, Netherlands