Russia–Africa Economic Forum Addresses International Cooperation in Healthcare

24 October 2019

The business programme of the Russia–Africa Economic Forum in Sochi featured a session titled ‘Drivers of Growth in National Healthcare Systems’, which was devoted to issues concerning cooperation between Russia and African countries in the healthcare sector. The event was attended by Russian Minister of Health Veronika Skvortsova, Minister of Health of the Democratic Republic of the Congo Eteni Longondo, Egyptian Minister of Finance Mohamed Maait, Chairperson of the Council of County Governors of the Republic of Kenya Wycliffe Ambetsa Oparanya, and President and CEO of Kiara Health Pty Skhumbuzo Ngozwana, among others.

“Our cooperation with African countries has a long history. Today, collaboration in the healthcare sector with the African continent is one of the priorities of Russia’s international policy. We are currently working on several areas of cooperation, including education. Today, more than 3,000 students from Africa study at Russian universities in medicine and pharmaceuticals, and this number could be significantly expanded. Russian vaccines can solve the problem of infectious diseases in African countries. Up to 60% of yellow fever vaccines supplied to the continent are produced in Russia. Our Ebola vaccine has been used in the Republic of Guinea and has proven to be highly protective. An anti-polio vaccine has been developed in Russia that has no analogues in the world in terms of its efficiency and safety. This drug could also be delivered to Africa to completely eradicate the disease on the continent,” Skvortsova said.

The session moderator, Chairman of Delovaya Rossiya (Business Russia) and Chairman of the Board of the R-Pharm Group Alexey Repik, noted the massive opportunities for developing cooperation in the healthcare sector between Russia and African countries. “Africa is currently entering a period of rapid economic growth. Experts estimate that by 2035 the healthcare market on the continent will increase by several times over. By 2030, the medical sector of the economy will be worth USD 260 billion and will be on the list of the largest world markets.”

The meeting participants outlined the key problems in healthcare facing African countries, namely a lack of funding and infrastructure, the low level of early disease diagnosis, a lack of medicine, and a shortage of qualified medical personnel. They also noted an increase in non-communicable diseases, including cardiovascular morbidity.

“The development level of African countries varies, but problems with healthcare are universal. This includes a shortage of medical personnel, insufficient infrastructure, and the high cost of medical services. Most of the African population lives in rural areas, so the development of telemedicine could be a solution. We are also interested in exchanging technologies and training personnel at medical universities in Russia,” said Wycliffe Ambetsa Oparanya, Chairperson of the Council of County Governors of the Republic of Kenya.

Another session titled ‘Telemedicine. How Will Digital Technology Change the Face of Healthcare Systems in African Countries?’ was held on the first day of the Forum at the Innovation Space platform as part of the Roscongress Foundation’s Building Trust Area.

A lack of quality medical care for people in rural areas as well as inaccessible and remote areas is one of the main social problems facing African countries. The development of telemedicine and the use of stationary and mobile equipment, including artificial intelligence technology, will greatly help to solve this problem.

Discussions on the most pressing issues in the healthcare sector will be continued as part of the business programme at the Healthy Life Forum, which will be held on 12 February 2020 in Sochi.

The Healthy Life Forum will take place on 12 February 2020 as part of the Russian Investment Forum at the Main Media Centre of Sochi’s Olympic Park. The Forum is the result of the annual activities of the Roscongress Foundation’s Healthy Life project, which was created in order to find and develop practical proposals to implement national projects that aim to solve the problem of increasing the healthy life expectancy of Russian citizens. The Forum is supported by the Russian Ministry of Health.

The Healthy Life Forum was first held on 13 February 2019 and was attended by some 3,000 people.

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