The BIK Breakfast Meeting was held on Oct. 6, 2017 at Capital Club East Africa in Nairobi, with approximately 70 members taking part. The Ambassador of Ireland to Kenya Dr. Vincent O’Neill called the meeting to order and provided opening remarks.

News from BIK

The BIK membership had a number of networking opportunities since the last Breakfast meetings, including two social meetings and a site tour of Tatu City. The Steering Committee has also asked members to submit their feedback on BIK, including areas where the organization can offer new or better opportunities.

The previous Breakfast Meeting focused in on agribusiness, which led to the Embassy and BIK organising a trade mission of approximately 10 Kenyan delegates who traveled to Ireland for Europe’s biggest Agricultural event: The National Ploughing Championships. Also sparked from that meeting, and a smaller meeting held directly afterwards comprising approximately 20 agribusinesses, is the Kenya-Ireland Agricultural Strategy. Set for launch later in the year, the strategy will capture trade plans and goals, both in institutional and corporate spaces in agriculture.

The newly launched European Business Council in Kenya will facilitate an EU business network to solve common issues of concern to all member states, a concept that BIK was instrumental in forming. Issues raised by the Council will be forwarded to the group of Ambassadors, who will then discuss a way forward together with the Cabinet Secretary for Foreign Affairs.

As the Presidential re-elections approach, the Ambassador explained that whole process will cost approximately €400m, including direct and indirect costs. This is very expensive for an election, and the elections have also slowed down economic growth.

Mr. Mark Murungaru’s Remarks

Mark Murungaru, Director at Nairobi Veterinary Center, gave a brief personal account of his visit to Ireland for the trade mission. Keeping in mind his key area of interest, he focused more on the breeding and nutritional aspect of the trip.

Murungaru noted that, compared to Kenya, Irish breeding techniques are more natural, cost effective and sustainable. Nutritionally, the Irish sector takes a preventative approach, rather than curative. Ireland also places more focus on smaller animals that are reared in their farms, looking to produce quality over quantity, e.g. less milk volume production and more focus on milk solids.

Murungaru added that he would follow up and advise the Department of Veterinary Services in Kenya to partner with Irish companies in terms of animal genetics. He thanked Enterprise Ireland and the Embassy of Ireland for the opportunity as he urged the members and guests present to take charge of such opportunities.

Security Report, Warrior Insight

Members received a security brief from Warrior Insight, which produces a weekly security matrix assessing the political risks and instability in each county.

There was a spike in terrorist activities in late April to August, largely on the road to Daadab. In September, only six incidences relating to terrorism occurred, including an IED near the border of Kenya and Somalia. Reports suggest that the Al Shabaab militia continues to recruit in Mombasa using the small gangs in Kisauni.

There has been ethnic unrest between farmers and pastoralists, which has resulted in direct conflicts between communities, including Meru-Turkana conflict, Maasai-Kipsigis conflicts and Ajuran-Degodia conflits. In Lamu, the Kikuyu are in direct conflict with the Oran (Somali) pastoralists due to land disputes.

September proved to be an eventful month with the nullification of the presidential election results. President Uhuru Kenyatta opened the 12th Parliament on Sept. 12, and the following week, the Supreme Court released its full judgment on the election results. The IEBC announced a presidential re-election date of Oct. 26 a week later, and towards the end of the month, the NASA leader petitioned 11 irreducible minimum demands for the election to take place.

Some of the expectations moving forward include NASA protests planned for every Monday and Friday, and in response the Jubilee supporters protesting around Babu Owino due to the statements he made concerning on the President. Further, strikes by industrial workers continue as planned in the CBD.

Dr. Amit Thakker, Chairman, Kenya Health Federation

Dr. Amit Thakker began his presentation with an overview of the Kenyan health sector, which has been growing for the past 30 years. That growth has spiked in the last decaged, with an average rate of 18 percent per. Total healthcare expenditure doubled from USD $1.5 billion dollars to nearly USD $2.8 billion dollars.

The average contribution to GDP for Sub-Saharan countries is 1.7 percent in the health sector, while Kenya is at 2.3 percent. This makes Kenya a hub for East and Central Africa. Thakker noted that the main challenges in the EAC health sector are improving access to health, increasing affordability and focusing on the quality of service and care.

Kenya health sector is subdivided into public and private sectors.

The private health sector accounts for up 60 to 55 percent of Kenyan healthcare providers and includes commercial providers and faith-based organisations and NGOs. The private sector is seeking partners and entrepreneurs in five key areas that are game changers in the health sector:

  • Health Services: The private sector aims to providing innovative clinics, diagnostics, low-cost/high-volume hospitals, increased units per clinic and increased bed counts to curb the high demand in the public sector.
  • Insurance/Risk Pooling: Pocket expenses are the biggest challenge for many households, and often contribute to poverty rates. The health insured population is 2 to 3 percent, or 20 to 25 percent including those dependent on NHIF. The primary challenge is providing products that cater to the uninsured population, providing a ‘pre-paid of some sort’ program enabling health care access. This in itself is an investment area that would boost the sector.
  • Supply Chain: The supply chain system is the second most costly facet in the Kenya healthcare sector. Any person who is able to improve the supply chain distribution network and increase the availability and affordability of products will improve overall health in the country.
  • Human Resources: Kenya only has 45 percent of its required health workforce. According to the WHO, the 1 million Kenyans born yearly require 18,000 health workers to provide adequate health services.
  • Digital Technology: Digital literacy is now no longer a concern, and the healthcare sector is ready to embrace technology effectively. With the 800 million smart phone users in Africa, putting health tools in their pockets presents a huge investment opportunity.

The public sector, accounting for 40 to 45 percent of the overall health sector is primarily challenged by its supply demand. A large percentage of Kenyans rely on public health care, yet there are too few health workers to provide services. There are private-public partnership contracts available at both the county and national level, including for leasing and upgrading hospital equipment.

According to Thakker, the challenges faced in Kenya are the same challenges facing other EAC countries. He urged investors to find ways to investing in healthcare regionally, rather than at a country level, as it will affect more people and be more cost-beneficial to the investor.

Ms. Lisa Källbäck, Trade Representative, Enterprise Ireland

Lisa Källbäck briefly introduced Enterprise Ireland (EI), the Irish government agency responsible for growing Irish enterprises globally, and outlined the agency’s main objectives in Sub Saharan Africa. She provided a quick overview of Ireland’s business environment and the Irish life sciences industry.

Källbäck explained that Enterprise Ireland can not only provide in-depth information on Irish technology and service providers, but also arrange introductions to potential suppliers. Ireland’s life sciences capabilities lie in a number of sectors, incorporating technology as well as services.

Some of the sectors, and notable representative companies, include:

  • Medical Surgical Equipment
  • Imaging and Diagnostics
  • Crospon: Crospon’s EndoFLIP Imaging System has applications in gastrodiagnostics, bariatric surgery and in other hollow organs where the measurement of dimensions and functions is important.
  • Hospital Supplies and Consumables
    • Connexicon: manufacturer of INDERMIL® flexifuze™, a high quality Topical Tissue adhesive for wound closure and infection control.
  • Laboratory Equipment and Consumables
  • IT for Patient Care
    • Vitro Sofware: Vitro’s Clinician-Centric Electronic Medical Record software ensures that health providers benefit from an EMR that is rapidly implemented, easily adopted and leads to instant clinical impact.
    • SyncroPhi: Wireless Vital Sign Monitoring system.
    • Pharmapod: Pharmapod’s Global Incident Reporting and Learning System is aninnovative cloud-based software designed to drive standards of patient safety across the pharmacy profession worldwide.
  • IT for Hospital Efficiency
    • Locatible: The Next Generation RTLS for Healthcare-patented ‘fusion tracking technology’ promises better accuracy, lower costs and no interference with hospital equipment.
  • Hospital Infrastructure
    • Dortek: Dortek’s hospital doors are specifically suited to the cleaning regimes needed to prevent the spread of infection, as well as prevent bacteria from building up on ledges or voids.
    • Aubren: Aubren produces precision air handling systems for the healthcare sector.
  • Patient Safety and Infection control
    • Novaerus: Novaerus utilizes the clinically proven plasma technology, working 24/7 to eradicate all airborne viruses, moulds and odours.
  • Emergency and Remote Care
  • Connected Health and Wearables
  • Specialized Departments
  • Pharmaceuticals and Health Wellness

Enterprise Ireland assists client companies in developing an understanding of their business needs and requirements and provides detailed information on appropriate Irish technology and service providers. If need be, they also arrange introductions to potential suppliers and organise fully planned visits in Ireland.

Dr. John Muthee, CEO, Savannah Informatics

Dr. John Muthee introduced Savannah Informatics, a Kenyan eHealth software company that delivers inter-operable, connected solutions for healthcare facilities, organisations and regions. They have a business partnership with an Irish company, Vitro Software. Clients include many members of the Kenya Association of Private Hospitals, the Kenya Health Federation and the Kenyan insurance sector, forming a network of customers primarily in Nairobi, Mombasa, Kisumu and Eldoret.

Dr. Muthee emphasized the utility of digital technology, particularly for the costly medical payment processes in Kenya. In the last two years, despite primarily focusing on connecting health providers and insurance companies, they realized that there is interest in connecting hospital technology to provide both diagnostic and procedure data.

Most hospitals only provide an automated total, but not a line item invoice of the services received at the hospitals. To curb this challenge, with the help of Vitro Software, they were able to find a way to upgrade the current EMR available in hospitals. This will not entirely replace paper usage in the hospitals, but better the business process to make it more transparent.

The biggest challenge he has witnessed in the sector is supply chain management, in terms of both pharmaceuticals and medical equipment. Supply chain inefficiency is one of the main drivers of high health costs and fragmentation of the supply chain.

He noted that many Kenyan companies operate with a start-up mentality, and that it can take time to understand how the norms you are used to, compare to the operations of partner companies. He advised that business relations will be more effective if you take the time to understand your partner companies’ operations.

He concluded by stating that the two main things he has learned from his experience are the importance of having a business partner and that most companies are looking for value and strong customer service support. He added that Vitro Software has been a great collaborative partner and helped them achieve a number of their goals. He urged the members and guests present to look at the health sector from a regional perspective, and not just the Kenyan market.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the Ambassador noted that the majority of Kenyan and Irish citizens are not aware of the capability of Ireland Life Sciences Supply. In line with that, he informed the members and guests of two global health conferences, including one being held in Dublin, Ireland, next month, addressing human resources in health and how to build up work forces. The second conference will be held in Nairobi, Kenya, next year with the involvement of the Irish Public Health Association.

The BIK Annual General Meeting will be held at the same venue, on Friday, Dec. 1.