Siemens recognizes a need to broaden understanding of healthcare needs in Africa

02 May 2011

GENEVA - As an established market leader Siemens recognizes the urgent need to improve the medical care of women and children in the developing countries. In order to maximize the impact of company's contribution in achieving the UN Millennium Development Goals, Siemens is committed to work with partners to deepen understanding of concrete needs in countries in support of the UN Secretary General's Global Strategy on Women's and Children's Health.

To kick off this process, in collaboration with the Global Strategy's Innovation Working Group (IWG), the Partnership for Maternal and Children's Health (PMNCH) and the World Vision International (WVI), a workshop meeting took place during the 2011 World Health Assembly in Geneva.

In this workshop, representatives from African governments, WVI, Blue Ribbon Alliance, PMNCH, WHO and the UN Foundation , discussed suitable ways to improve access to healthcare for women and children in developing countries and the deriving diagnostic needs. Specific examples in Uganda, Mozambique and Somaliland were shared. Based on these discussions, the workshop participants explored new ways how Siemens in partnerships with other stakeholders can contribute to developing solutions. Sustainable business models which address public health needs have to be developed for most impact

Beyond the pure provision of technology, especially the reliability of service and customer specific training have been identified as key success factors, which can be addressed by Siemens in collaboration with partners. Another essential requirement is changes in procurement processes. In African countries, prices of medical equipment and devices are higher than they are in Europe, products do not get to where they are needed and have smaller margins for manufacturers. The procurement of larger quantities of medical devices to supply whole regions combined with long term maintenance and training contracts would provide major advantages, economies of scale in maintenance and training being just one example. Siemens is willing to pass on these cost advantages to the countries. However, procurement of individual products is still predominant. In order to decrease prices, moving towards larger and more all-inclusive tenders will be crucial.

Various innovations were discussed: product development innovation for low income settings (e.g. battery or solar run devices like portable ultrasound), improved access to point-of care diagnostics including rapid tests, procurement policies, speeding up development of specifications and harmonization of regulations, use of mobile phones linked to devices, and others.

Based on these discussions, partners have began a process to sharpen the role Siemens can play in providing comprehensive solutions to improve women's and children's lives. The initiated process will enable Siemens to support better care, utilize available resources as efficiently as possible, develop public-private partnerships and maximize its contribution to achieve the MDGs. Partners agreed that multistakeholder dialogue is essential and targeted workshops need to continue to shape feasible solutions to support the implementation of the Global Strategy for Women's and Children's lives.