We believe that health is a basic human right. Everything we do ensures lasting health change for all.
Over the years, major and sustained growth in emerging economies, including across Africa, has created dynamic countries with promising prospects for health improvements on the back of increased prosperity, democracy, human rights and access to advanced technologies. Trade, education and travel have also expanded research and innovation capacities in low and middle-income countries. As a result, the global health research agenda is no longer a preserve of the ‘global north’. Solutions to global health problems are increasingly being developed in ‘the south.’
However, various systemic constraints hamper the wide proliferation of health research and innovation. These include weak health infrastructure, inadequate human resource capacity and limited public financing to the health sector. The need for health research and innovation is especially pronounced in Africa which accounts for 11% of the world’s population, but bears 24% of the global burden of disease and accounts for less than 1% of global health expenditure.
While Kenya has experienced strong economic growth in recent years, it continues to face several significant public health challenges that could be addressed through health research and innovation: a high burden of communicable diseases, a growing burden of non-communicable diseases (NCDs), a high maternal and infant mortality rate (360 women per 100,000 live births, and 48 children per 1,000 live births) and a critical shortage of physicians with just one doctor per 10,000 residents.
For a growing number of countries, innovation – spurred by technological advances and increased access to global markets – is a leading driver of economic growth and prosperity. Governments, funders and entrepreneurs are leveraging technological innovations, creative financing models and conducive policies to deliver the next generation of services.
Health innovation identifies new health policies, systems, products and technologies, and services, deploying creative delivery methods that improve people’s health and wellbeing. It responds to unmet public health needs by creating new ways of thinking and working with a focus on the needs of vulnerable populations. Health innovation can be applied across preventive, promotive, curative and rehabilitative or assistive services. According to the WHO, health innovation is an important element in the efforts to achieve universal health coverage within the context of the Sustainable Development Goals.
Innovation in health, equity and development results in research, technology and solutions that promote health and development, and lead to more productive, healthy and fulfilling lives for all. Innovation for health is not limited to healthcare. It is also highly relevant in other sectors that have an impact on health and wellbeing, such as agriculture, education and economic development.
The ultimate goal of health innovation and research is to improve our ability to meet public and personal health needs and demands by optimising the performance of the health system for increased access to sustainable health care. There is a continued need to scout, develop and test scalable solutions and improvements in health policies, systems, products, technologies, services, and delivery methods, to improve treatment, diagnosis, education, outreach, prevention, research quality and delivery, and access to health care.
Our Theory of Change
At Amref Health Africa, we have adopted a continuous research and development approach in our work. We now have a viable pipeline of social innovations/ventures at various stages of development touching on different areas of focus: Health Systems Strengthening, Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights and Family Planning, Communicable and Non-Communicable Diseases, Water, Sanitation and Hygiene, Primary Health Care, and Neglected Tropical Diseases.
Leveraging our knowledge, understanding and over 60 years’ hands-on experience in public health, health research and technology, and program implementation, we are conducting a feasibility study on a sustainable model of bringing water to life by creating sustainable water solutions. We are doing this by providing access to, and use of, safe drinking water for communities in rural and peri-urban Kenya, combined with a community-based health program.
We have also rolled out a family-centred wellness movement geared towards the sustainable control of the NCDs through an end-to-end wellness solution that delivers significant business and social value for organisations and communities alike through wellness programmes focusing on psychosocial, physical, mental, and financial wellbeing.
By deploying an Organisational Development and Systems Strengthening (ODSS) approach, we are strengthening the capacity of community-based and civil society organisations, health care workers, MSMEs and government structures to design, implement, monitor and evaluate the impact of their interventions. This dynamic and outcome-based participatory process emphasises organisational ownership towards addressing community challenges.
We continue to enhance and make use of an African-themed online platform (AfRika) that serves as a vehicle for a social movement that is empowering young people in Africa to be healthy and productive through access to youth-friendly sexual reproductive health and rights (SRHR) information, services and products.
Working with the County Government of Nakuru, we are conducting a feasibility study on a new and novel training curriculum for sanitation marketing to promote sanitation and hygiene interventions with a special focus on mothers and children below the age of five years. The venture combines health education approaches as well as entrepreneurial market-based approaches for communities, small and medium enterprises to construct sanitation facilities through loans from microfinance institutions.
We seek to create catalytic, shared value partnerships with Philanthropic Organisations, Social Impact Investors, and Development Finance Institutions (DFIs) to accelerate, the development, introduction, testing and eventual scale-up of promising human-centred design health solutions that are economically and programmatically sustainable.