The African continent is a land of cultures, people and customs spread across extensive geography. The challenges faced by the land, especially so in healthcare requires particular and specific treatment. With a shortage of healthcare professionals and limited infrastructure, what could help the continent to amp up its healthcare sector?
Trading with foreign nations will definitely open up opportunities for Africa to realize and tap potential in healthcare. Healthcare trading from the previous years has given a spark to healthcare subsectors such as eHealth, mHealth. At this juncture, trading with India can make all the difference when it comes to healthcare.
Already, India has become the second largest nation to trade in healthcare after China. India alone holds 6.1% of the total trade in the continent. Not only that Africa and India seem to be ‘natural’ trade partners in a larger sense. Africa has got the raw materials, the resources. India with its advantage of bigger human capital imports these resources and exports them back as consumer goods which predominantly translates to petroleum and pharmaceutical products. A strong colonial past between the two nations may add contextual depth for trading exercises between the two nations as well.
Data reveals that the western and the southern regions of Africa are the largest importers of Indian pharmaceuticals. These two geographies comprise of a population which is highly affected by HIV/AIDS. India has managed to supply the continent a number of anti-retroviral (ARV) drugs at considerably lower rates hence benefitting both the geographies.
African population has long been a victim of meningitis. In association with global NGOs and the WHO, Indian healthcare giants provided the region effective vaccines against the disease thus arresting the spread of the disease. Cases like this prove beyond doubt that a well layered and managed trade between the two nations can reap extraordinary benefits for both the nations as well.
One way to increase healthcare potential between the nations is to expand avenues to speed up two-way trade. This could apply to the many subsectors of the field such as tele-education, tele-medicine, information and technology services etc. Some areas where extensive can be given is cross border trade and medical tourism. Establishing a commercial presence in the continent such as hospitals will help the cause. Movement of healthcare professionals between the two nations must be made easy.
The African continent too has to experience a reformation in the policies such that they are conducive to investments in healthcare. Key areas are the portability of insurance, transparent practices and consistent framework regulation. There’s definitely a long way to go, but right now is the right time to begin a fruitful journey between Africa and India.