I consider it a great privilege to address the Health Innovation Community of Practice – the first of its kind on the continent. Alongside private sector leaders in Nigeria, we are excited at the prospects of leveraging private sector innovation and technology to advance health outcomes.
I have always believed that the biggest missed opportunity in accelerating improvement in health outcomes in Nigeria, lies in our ability to create a health innovation marketplace to identify, spur and scale up promising health innovations that leapfrog constraints and save lives.
Despite recent improvements, Nigeria will need to accelerate improvement in health outcomes to achieve the health MDGs by the end of 2015. It is estimated that Nigeria loses one million lives of women and children annually, as a result of preventable causes such as malaria, malnutrition, lack of access to life-saving commodities, suboptimal supply chain systems, amongst others.
The private sector will have to play an important role in complementing governments efforts to contribute to the saving one million lives movement – through innovation, advocacy and impact investments.
Today marks a very important day in the journey of the Private Sector Health Alliance but it also landmarks a key date in the history of innovation in healthcare in this country. After the launch of the Nigeria Health Innovation Marketplace in February 2014, we have made significant strides towards our vision to spur innovation and foster partnerships to save lives. For example, i) we have led the largest mobile health intervention in the country reaching over 10 million women and children; ii) We have mobilized private sector resources and capabilities to provide nutrition and life saving commodities to over 500,000 children; iii) We have, in partnership with other stakeholders, executed the first ever healthcare hackathon to leverage technology to save lives.
Three important things are happening here today:
- Firstly, the NHIM virtual portal has gone live: this is home to the six critical components of the marketplace which by their intrinsic design will spur innovation, whether it is through knowledge sharing, creating visibility for innovators, developing capabilities of innovators, linking innovators with investors, fostering collaboration or generating healthy competition;
- Secondly, we have convened a community of practice for healthcare innovators in the country… This community will leapfrog innovation through shared learning. After today, there will be learning clusters, spin-offs from this mother group, but we will convene again intermittently, to share not only updates, but our successes in saving lives;
- Lastly, today the Health Innovation Challenge to Save One Million lives also kicks-off; We have developed problem statements in partnership with States and government agencies and we are confident that addressing these constraints through innovation and partnerships, will contribute significantly to the saving one million lives movement.
On behalf of the NHIM Steering Committee, I thank you all for embarking on this exciting journey with us and look forward to the days ahead. I encourage you to sustain engagement with this group moving forward and believe that we have not yet fully imagined, the impact that will ensue as a result of this.
On that note, I now officially welcome you into the community and family of Health Innovators in Nigeria!
I also now officially declare the Health Innovation Challenge open!
Our journey is just starting, and the road is far. But, working together, this health innovation community of practice that we are building, will create a movement that history will judge as having contributed to saving at least one million lives of women and children through innovation and public private partnerships.