“Africa must realize that they are incapable of improving healthcare if there is poor collaboration within the various sectors.” Dr. Amit Thakker.
Industry captain, award winning medical doctor, entrepreneur and health sector champion, Dr. Amit Thakker founder Avenue Healthcare gave the final guest lecture to MBA Healthcare students as they marked the completion of their program. Dr. Thakker’s active role as the CEO and founding Director of Kenya Healthcare Federation, Health Sector Board for KEPSA, visionary founder of the East Africa Healthcare Federation and Chair of the EA Health Platform hosted by East Africa Business Council are among the many accolades earned that continue to make him an inspiration to many healthcare practitioners.
How does entrepreneurship take shape in the provision of quality healthcare services? “Solving the challenges on healthcare requires an entrepreneurial mindsets guided by the principles of provision of easily accessible and cheaper healthcare solutions,” answered Dr. Thakker
Benefiting from the traits of problem solving and risk taking, the healthcare industry provides numerous opportunities for growth. “My journey started in 1995 when I bought a van and converted it into a mobile clinic. I was determined to solve the problems I had faced during my practice: Seeing patients suffer and families pushed into poverty in their search for healthcare. I had only two staff members. Currently, we server over 1,600 corporate institutions with a staff profile of 650,” Dr. Thakker narrated.
The biggest disease affecting healthcare in Africa is poverty. In Kenya, only 6.1 million people have a healthcare cover. This sad reality implies that most Kenyans will have to dig deep in their pockets to get access to healthcare. Most families cross the poverty line as households have to cater for the very often costly medical expenses.
How can one capitalize on these challenges?
The walk towards the attainment of universal health coverage can only be guided by the need to take healthcare to the people. Innovations in telemedicine have proved that this task is achievable. However, the cost per unit to fuel some of these innovations have been expensive and thus unable to break into the barriers of cheap and accessible healthcare provision.
The provision of healthcare supplies is one of the greatest challenges in Africa. This often translates to inefficiencies in budgeting for the acquisition of supplies, their procurement and management. Loopholes in supply chain management can only be solved through proper leadership.
Kenya produces less than half of the workforce required to effectively serve the sector. Proper planning and structures surrounding the distribution of healthcare labor would be instrumental in the growth of the sector.
Public private partnerships are key in healthcare. Collaborative partnerships from every sector is key in supplementing the shortcomings of the industry.
Concluding his remarks, Dr. Thakker addressed the challenges in finding skilled health professionals with competencies in management and leadership. “Leadership is lacking in many areas in Africa especially in healthcare management. This can only be solved by giving special attention to nurturing leadership skills. I am pleased with the work that Institute of Healthcare Management is doing at Strathmore Business School.” He concluded.