torsdag 29 mars 2018

Rwanda & Uganda: Exploring East Africa - Part II

Diversity. The cross-section of Swedish society represented in our delegation surprised even us organizers. We came from government, agency, institutions, and private business; covering the domains of diplomacy, policy, financing, MedTech, pharma, eHealth, and consulting; with origins ranging from South Africa, Kenya, Bangladesh, China, and Germany; all of us representing and promoting Sweden - and Swedish expertise, with a goal to learn, collaborate, and strengthen our capacity. We were also joined by a representative from our EU-funded project Central Baltic Health Access, Piret Hirv from Tallinn Tehnopol Sience Park.

The objective of this delegation trip, like the one to Kenya and Tanzania in November, was to take a few companies, institutions, and state representatives to Rwanda and Uganda, to meet potential local collaborators with whom they can forge longlasting partnerships in order to expand, and/or establish, their presence in and across East Africa.

The delegation trip itself would not have come about without the close collaboration between Swecare Foundation, Business Sweden, and the Swedish Embassies in Kigali and Kampala as well as the CBHA. The visibility and credibility of the delegation increase significantly when we work towards a common goal while planning these visits.

Program Overview

The trip started with Monday morning with a briefing at the Swedish Embassy in Kigali, led by the Swedish Ambassador to Rwanda, Jenny Ohlsson. 

Site visits included a trip to the Military Hospital, which is in the process of installing an Elekta unit in their largely insurance-covered facilities. The delegation then met with the Director General of Clinical Services at the Rwandan Ministry of Health and got a first-hand account of the evolving state of the Rwandan healthcare systems at the sprawling Kigali University Teaching Hospital (CHUK). It was encouraging to hear about the amount of resources the Rwandan government devotes in ensuring that an increasing number of patients are covered by insurance. The day ended with a reception hosted at the Swedish Residence.

On our second day, we had the extraordinary privilege of attending the first African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCTA) Business Forum, one-day before the signing of this historic commitment. This was followed by our own East African Community Business & Investment Forum, an annual initiative by the Swedish East Africa Chamber of Commerce (SWEACC) with a focus on health this year. Despite strong competition from the much-larger coinciding event, we had a decent turnout (see picture above) and, more importantly, a couple of heated sessions on disease management and long-term financing solutions. The session included a welcome by Dr Jean-Pierre Nyamanzi, the Permanent Secretary at the Rwandan Ministry of Health, an introduction by our delegation leader Niclas Jacobson from Socialdepartmentet and a talk by an industry expert, Hans Winberg of the independent policy thinktank Leading Health Care. This was followed by B2B meetings for our private sector partners. 

After an early flight into Entebbe on our third day, we made a site visit to the National Medical Stores, which handles the procurement and distribution of goods for the public hospital system, before heading into Kampala, Uganda. The Swedish Embassy in Kampala organized an impressive networking reception which drew all the major actors in the Ugandan healthcare sector - a testament to the incredible relationship between our two countries. Such was the interest in our companies, that many of the delegates did not get a chance to sample any of the refreshments on offer. I am looking forward to seeing some of the contacts made that evening develop into concrete partnerships. Swecare and Tallinn Tehnopol Science Park took this opportunity to sign a MoU with the Ugandan Healthcare Federation in order to formalize the existing collaboration under the CBHA program.

Our big surprise the next day was a meeting with the Ugandan Minister of Health herself, the Honorable Minister Sarah Opendi, whom, we had been told, would be unable to meet with us. She went out of the way in order to make time to sit down with us to discuss taking projects and investments to the next stage. The delegation made site visits to the new maternity wing of Uganda's largest hospital, Mulago Referral Hospital, and its associated Ugandan Cancer Institute (UCI), which has also recently acquired an Elekta unit. After short meetings at the Joint Medical Stores and the new management at International Hospital Kampala, we said goodbye to much of the delegation as only a few of us stayed on for one last, optional, morning session at the UK-East Africa Health Improvement Summit.

Most common requests:
  • More frequent visits
  • Clear follow-up
  • Financing solutions
  • Technician training

Participating Companies

Much of the reason for the success of this delegation trip rests with the participants - a dedicated set of smart, funny, and flexible individuals. Thank you for coming!
  • Getinge
  • Elekta
  • Doctrin
  • Luco Holding
  • AstraZeneca
  • Swedfund
  • MedCardApps (MCA)
For those who were not with us this time, do look into joining us on one of our upcoming trips: Swecare Events.

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