Africa Health Congress 2019 held at Gallagher Estate in Midrand
Visitors and conference delegates from across Africa gathered at Gallagher Estate in Johannesburg on Tuesday, 28 May 2019, for the start of Africa Health 2019 Exhibition and Conferences. Now in its ninth year, this event brings together health leaders, healthcare specialists and trade executives to gain first-hand knowledge of the advances being made in the quest for better health outcomes and improved health systems in Africa. The largest event of its kind, Africa Health brought together over 10 000 visitors, 600 exhibitors and 250 speakers over three days to engage in the best of what the world has to offer in healthcare innovation and experience. The congress ran over three days, closing on Thursday, 30 May 2019.
A few of the notable attendees on the opening day included Ministers and Deputy Health Ministers from Africa, including Hon Dr Chitalu Chilufya, Minister of Health in Zambia, Hon Julieta Kavetuna, Deputy Minister of Health in Namibia and a host of healthcare leaders from Uganda, Lesotho, Ghana and the Republic of Somaliland.
Focusing on the health of Africa
The largest platform of its kind on the continent, Africa Health this year hosted more than 600 prominent international and regional healthcare and medical laboratory suppliers, manufacturers and service providers from across 39 countries and various product categories, who showcased the latest healthcare technology and products. Global industry giants like General Electric, Getinge and Fujifilm took centre stage at this year’s event to demonstrate their commitment to providing solutions to Africa’s healthcare challenges.
Ryan Sanderson, Exhibition Director for Africa Health believes that advances in healthcare technology have paved the way for new thinking for solutions to healthcare challenges in Africa. “To enable these companies to showcase their innovations, we have also included an Innovation Zone and a SME zone into the Exhibition this year.”
Supported by the Technological Innovation Agency of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), this Innovation Zone included a mix of 15 companies across the spectrum of new technology including 3D printing, diagnostics, drug delivery systems and AI. “This platform will enable innovators to demonstrate novel approaches to solving some of the challenges facing sub-Saharan Africa through the use of new and unique methods,” said Sanderson.
SMEs, which are estimated to make up 90 percent of the formal market in South Africa and have the potential to lift many South Africans out of poverty will also be showcased at this year’s exhibition through a dedicated SME area. Here, entrepreneurs are gaining increased exposure while providing visitors with a diverse line-up of companies and products from across the healthcare market.
In recognition of the growing importance of laboratory services in the fight against disease and in global disease surveillance programmes, the Africa Health Exhibition this year included Medlab Africa, a specialised laboratory exhibition. This exhibition offered attendees an entrée into several global organisations at the cutting edge of laboratory solutions.
Germany is the largest healthcare market in the world spending 374 billion euros a year on healthcare. With longstanding competencies in engineering, manufacturing and healthcare, German companies are pioneers in the development of new medical devices and services and can play a valuable role in supporting healthcare in Africa. The German medical technology sector is represented at the event through German Trade and Invest (GTI), a key partner at Africa Health. With over 50 offices globally, the GTI provides support to several well-known names in German health such as Hupfer, Kugel Medical, Joy Division and Medi.
Learning from leaders in healthcare
The 18 conferences that took place at the event boasted a faculty of over 250 carefully selected international and local speakers. The Public Health Conference held on the first day included an address by Mia Malan, founding director and editor of Bhekisisa Health, who told delegates that, as public health experts, they had their own printing presses through social media. Malan went on to provide delegates with case studies where media stories had influenced the policy agenda and provided useful tips on how public health practitioners could ensure their stories were published, adding that, “the most powerful way to tell a health story is to give it a human face and a political angle”.
The importance of antibiotic stewardship was one of the topics addressed in the Laboratory Medicine Conference. Dr Chetna Govind of Lancet Labs in KwaZulu-Natal explained the importance of the laboratory in diagnostics and said that laboratories form the link in the early warning system in diagnosis.
Emergency Medicine Conference
A CPD accredited Emergency Medicine Conference was held on 30 May 2019 in partnership with Emergency Medicine Society of South Africa (EMSSA) and Emergency Care Society of South Africa (ECCSA). This year’s theme was ‘Enhancing emergency medicine by bridging gaps between emergency professionals’.
The conference was opened by the president of ECCSA, Andrew Makkink, who is also a senior lecturer at the University of Johannesburg. A keynote address entitled ‘Driving quality in the Emergency Medicine department’ was delivered by Prof Terrence M Mulligan from University of Maryland Institute in the US.
The first session, ‘Progressive emergency technique’, was presented by Prof Feroza Motara, head of the Division of Emergency Medicine, University of the Witwatersrand. Following this presentation, ‘Pre-hospital emergency care’ was discussed under multiple sub-topics including ‘Emergency centre handover: We are all just human after all’, presented by Makkink and ‘Prehospital pain management’ with Prof Ryan Matthews, paramedic educator and researcher at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology.
Dr Simpiwe Sobuwa, head of department, Emergency Medical Care, at Durban University of Technology, shared his ideas on the topic ‘Education: Determinants of student success’, while Jamlick Karumbi, an epidemiologist/pharmacist, at Kenya’s Ministry of Health and an epidemiologist for the East African Kidney Institute at the University of Nairobi in Kenya, discussed ‘Translating research into practice in the resource-constrained setting’.
The third session covered ‘Multidisciplinary working and supporting the emergency physician’. Presentations under this heading were given by the University of Pretoria’s Adjunct Prof Andreas Engelbrecht, who discussed ‘Beating burn-out and enhancing wellness’ and Netcare Milpark Hospital’s acting trauma programme manager, Rene Grobler, who presented ‘Overcoming challenges to enable advanced emergency nursing’.
Session four closed the conference, with visiting American, Prof Mulligan sharing some top tips on ‘Geriatric emergency management’ before delivering the closing keynote, ‘Global emergency medicine development’.
Makkink, chaired the conference, assisted by Prof Lee Wallis, professor and head of Emergency Medicine, University of Cape Town and Stellenbosch University, as well as EMSSAs president, Dr Roger Dickerson.
Conference topics at Africa Health 2019
18 conferences were held over the three days of the congress, covering such topics as ‘Biomedical engineering’, ‘Decontamination and sterilisation (CSSD)’, ‘Digital health’, ‘Ethics, Human rights and medical law’ and ‘Healthcare technology life-cycle management.’ Other conferences dealt with such things as healthcare management, imaging and diagnostics, infectious diseases, laboratory medicine, medical device procurement and the Africa health leaders. Conferences also covered the topics of nursing, obstetrics, physio, public health, quality management and trauma.
Averting and preventing deadly outbreaks in Africa
One of the critical threats facing the continent is that of outbreaks such as Ebola. Weak health systems and a severe shortage of health resources, as experienced by many countries on the continent, mean that diseases are not diagnosed and treated quickly, causing a conducive environment for the spread of these often-deadly diseases. Speaking at the Laboratory Medicine Conference, Professor Akin Abayomi, Head of Department of Haematopathology at Tygerberg Hospital and Associate Prof of Haematology at the University of Stellenbosch told delegates that far from being contained, Ebola had now broken out in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) where 1 466 people were infected, resulting in 957 deaths; adding that political instability was preventing the treatment and containment of the outbreak.
He cautioned that, “the destruction of the environment”, was a contributor to diseases like Lassa fever in Nigeria where wild rats, the carriers of the disease, were being forced into cities to find food, thereby causing the disease to spread.
Prof Aboyami stressed the ease with which deadly diseases like Ebola are spread and the importance for countries to put in biosecurity mechanisms in place to pre-empt and prevent biosecurity threats.
Reach for a Dream Charity
Each year, Africa Health selects a worthy charity which benefits from the proceeds of the conferences. In 2019, Reach for a Dream was the recipient at a formal handing over ceremony held on Wednesday, 29 May 2019. “We believe that the role that Africa Health plays in facilitating the transferring of knowledge and the access to new technology on the continent cannot be underestimated,” said Sanderson.
This year, a cheque of R 605 000 was handed to the Reach for a Dream Foundation, whose mission is to encourage children to use their dreams to fight life-threatening illnesses and inspire hope. Previous years’ recipients include CHOC and the Tshemba Foundation who were also in attendance at Africa Health this year.
Natalie Lazaris, Head of Business Development at the Reach for a Dream Foundation, commented,” The donation is incredible and we are grateful beyond words. But the success reaches further than that, we have had nurses refer children to us, who were not part of our database, which we can now engage with and fulfil their dreams. We have also grown our medical database extensively and we have been able to meet very interesting companies and individuals who want to help the Foundation further.”
Source: HWB Communications