The Government of the Netherlands seeks to support Nigeria in strengthening its healthcare systems, to foster investments in Nigeria’s health sector and transfer capacity, expertise and best practices in line with its trade and aid policies.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Consulate of the Kingdom of Netherlands, made this known on Saturday in a statement at a three-day fact-finding mission for Nigerian delegates in the Netherlands.
The delegation included private-sector healthcare providers, financial investors and public sector officials.
NAN also reports that the visit was organized by the Consulate of the Kingdom of Netherlands in Lagos, in collaboration with PharmAccess Foundation, the implementing partner for the Government of the Netherlands’ health-related activities.
According to Michel Deelen, Consul General of the Netherlands in Lagos, it is the first health mission organised by the Consulate which brought together leaders to meet and interact with Dutch health entrepreneurs.
He said the mission aimed at fostering investments in the Nigerian health sector and transferring capacity, expertise and best practices.
“We aim to improve sustainable business partnerships between the Netherlands and Nigeria in key sectors like renewable energy, circular economy, agriculture and health.
“We understand the importance of authentic partnerships and aim to reap shared benefits from matchmaking opportunities in Nigeria and the Netherlands,” he said.
Marc Hasselaar, the Director, International Entrepreneurship at the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, provided insights into the drafting of a new global health strategy.
He stated that the world economies had become more globalised and individual countries were proposing new guidelines to strengthen national and global health security.
“The Government of the Netherlands, as part of its global development goals, has established a policy directive to structure the support it provides to the healthcare sector, globally to ensure that its global health efforts are more strategic.
“The recently published Dutch Global Health Strategy 2023-2030: ‘Working together for health worldwide,’ aims to contribute in a coordinated and targeted way to improving public health around the world.
Leonie Van der Stijl, Deputy Consul General of the Netherlands, who joined the mission, also noted that healthcare challenges had become increasingly global, multidimensional and complex.
“The Dutch Global Health Strategy focuses on strengthening global health architecture and systems, especially for primary care and sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights.
“As Africa’s biggest economy, the state of affairs in Nigeria often reflects issues and opportunities that exist across the continent. That is why this mission is so important,” Leonie said.
Furthermore, Mr Njide Ndile, PharmAcces Nigeria, shared findings from the Nigeria Health Sector Market Study.
“The objectives of the study include providing deeper insights into the opportunities in Nigeria’s health sector and to position Dutch firms as Nigeria’s innovative partners for Life-Science-Health (LSH) opportunities.
“There are opportunities to leverage investments through funders such as Invest international, who also support and fund governments for systems building, in addition to making access available to the private sector,” he said.
Commenting on the report, Loretta Aniagolu, Managing Partner and CEO of FIT Consult Limited, stated that the study provided by PharmAccess Foundation was very useful in validating their own studies, particularly the breakdown of the expenditure of each state on overseas and private healthcare treatment.
“The report is scheduled to be disseminated in December 2022 and it will provide deeper insights into the market entry strategies for Dutch companies looking to leverage investment opportunities in Nigeria’s health sector,” it said.
NAN also reports that the delegation went on on-site visits to Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs).
Guido Geerts, the Chief Executive Officer of Delft Imaging brought the delegates up to speed on some of the innovative solutions they had developed, using digital x-rays and CAD4TB to improve TB screening, especially in hard-to-reach areas.
“Delft Imaging Systems, established in 1925, has a long history of developing innovative imaging solutions that improve the quality of people,” Geerts said.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), around 245,000 Nigerians die from tuberculosis (TB) and about 590,000 new cases occur every year.
At the Philips Innovation Centre in Eindhoven, the latest consumer healthcare products were showcased and the Nigerian delegation took part in live demonstrations of some of the medical equipment.
Edward Mwingi, Philips Indirect Channel Manager, West Africa, said that Philips had been developing innovative healthcare solutions across the continuum of care, from healthy living, prevention, diagnosis, treatment and home care.
“We saw how easy it is to deploy technologies that will guarantee our nation’s health in future. This is not limited to equipment, we also have innovative software and financing solutions that address our current needs in Nigeria.
“Functional healthcare systems cannot operate in isolation and to deliver the maximum benefit, they need to work effectively as part of a wider ecosystem that includes a well-trained workforce, funding to pay for health services, diagnostics and therapeutics.”
During the visit to Invest International, which had a shareholding that included the Dutch Ministry of Finance (51%) and FMO (49%), a triple-A bank, the delegation learned how the organisation supported in making investments feasible for Dutch solutions that addressed global challenges.
Yvette Fleming, Senior Business Developer for Child Health and Innovation for Development and her team, also enlightened the delegates on how the organisation was finding smart solutions to complex issues.
The team shared an example of how they were finding solutions to nutrition and creating employment opportunities, with flying foods: insects for food.
“We have been supporting organizations in Uganda, Kenya and Nigeria through the farming crickets.
“They can be eaten as a snack, ground into powder and added to porridge, bread and cookies.
“The cool bricks an efficient construction material that is environmentally friendly is used to build houses.
“The Nigerian construction material market would be a viable destination for the cool bricks, as the market for environmentally-friendly building materials is still in its infancy,” she said.
Innovations in bioengineering were presented at TU Delft, the oldest and largest Dutch public technical university in the Netherlands.
Viable opportunities were discussed for collaboration in relevant research and development with institutions in Nigeria.
The university has existing partnerships with the University of Lagos and the University of Ibadan.
Researchers at the university presented diagnostic innovations that could address neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) in low-resource settings.
Nigeria contributes to 50% of the African burden of NTDs.
Prof. Akin Abayomi, Lagos State Commissioner for Health, expressed appreciation to the Netherlands Government, adding that future fact-finding missions should include visits to pharmaceutical companies.
“The need for public-private partnership solutions, with counterpart funding are some of the financing solutions that need to be explored.
He also explained that in Lagos, they were pushing to ensure they were smart working, leveraging on multiple sources of funding to deliver one standard of healthcare, benchmarked against international standards.(NAN)