Deloitte launches effort to address health care equity in Africa

Deloitte has announced the launch of the Deloitte Africa Health Equity Institute (DAHEI), which uses data and analytics, research as well as strategic partnerships with government and health care organisations to advance health care equity in Africa.

“The COVID-19 pandemic laid bare the persistent and deep-rooted challenges of ensuring equitable health outcomes for all. As a global society we were forced to face the fact that, even in the 21st century, communities around the world still lack basic medical care as a result of underfunding in public health infrastructure. COVID challenged us all – public and private sector alike – to re-think the status quo in order to rebuild and reinvest in more equitable and affordable health care infrastructure,” Punit Renjen, CEO, Deloitte Global, said ahead of the launch.

“The Deloitte Africa Health Equity Institute has been set-up to help respond to healthcare inequality, one of the greatest challenges of our times. This is especially needed in a continent like ours where fragmented health systems, the divide between public and private healthcare as well as socio economic conditions puts healthcare beyond the reach of many. We are immensely proud of this initiative,” said Lwazi Bam, Deloitte Africa CEO. In South Africa, DAHEI has already been involved in work that has supported government’s COVID-19 response.

Ashleigh Theophanides, the Africa Life Sciences & Health Care Industry Lead at Deloitte, who heads up the institute, says Deloitte is expanding its long term commitment to aligning healthcare ecosystems of Community Based Organisations, government agencies, academics and the private sector in order to achieve better healthcare outcomes. “We aim to use the pillars of data and analytics, knowledge and evidence as well partnerships and our expertise to address some of the health care challenges faced by our communities across the continent,” says Theophanides.

Deloitte has already done extensive qualitative work in South Africa’s COVID-19 response. The firm supported Business for South Africa (B4SA), the business body created to guide business response to Covid-19, in creating a technology platform that was used to monitor the demand for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) in SA. This covered the value chain from procurement stage to identifying supply gaps and delivery in areas of acute need across the country.

Deloitte has also helped develop geographical spatial modelling to map the spread of infections in densely populated areas and help identify locations for isolating facilities. Epidemiological modelling has been used to project the demand for ICU and high care beds, while public transport modelling was used to estimate number of daily commuters, and thus rate of infections, across various modes of public transport when the economy was being gradually opened up last year.

In other parts of the continent, DAHEI helped some governments monitor and improve their public HIV/Aids treatment programme and strengthen the capacity of their primary health care programme, both of which mostly benefit the poor.

The institute also assisted various parts of the health sector improve monitoring and value for money for donors including the Global Fund, USAID and the World Bank, most of which is directed at the poor and marginalised.

Theophanides points out that a key pillar of the institute’s work is investing in community-based NGOs dedicated to addressing a broad set of systemic barriers to health care. Last year, Deloitte offered its service for free to the international health NGO Project Hope, which offers health care support services in the developing world, to draft its five-year strategy including fundraising and help it strengthen programmes such as COVID-19 response.

The institute has also developed playbooks, or planning tools, that can be used by health care organisations and various spheres of government to plan for various phases of COVID-19 responses. The playbooks provide COVID-19 recovery scenarios aimed at the social sector, a guide to setting up vaccination sites for community and mass vaccination, as well as research guide based on how densely populated cities can build and finance resilient and equitable healthcare systems.

Globally, the Health Equity Institute already has a partnership with the World Economic Forum, and Theophanides says they will be looking to set up similar ones on the continent.

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