‘I have worked a long time in Africa and I see collaboration between the private sector and GIZ health programmes as highly efficient in catalysing development,’ says Dr Holger Till, GIZ Team Leader for Development Partnerships (develoPPP.de) in health in Ghana. He says the coronavirus emergency, whilst presenting a plethora of challenges, is also an opportunity to develop further partnerships between Ghana’s health system and German and Ghanaian private sector companies.
BISA – an app that provides information about COVID-19© Oasis
BISA – an app that provides information about COVID-19
In one such partnership GIZ linked up six Ghanaian hospitals with a Berlin-based hospital engineering company. The company will support the installation and maintenance of BMZ-funded equipment for intensive care units (ICUs), including 14 ventilators, and train Ghanaian teams in what they need to know to maintain them in good condition. The partnership will enable hospitals to treat critically ill COVID-19 patients. In addition, it reassures hospital staff to know that, should they get infected and fall ill, the ICUs will be there for them too. According to Dr Holger Till, keeping staff healthy and motivated keeps the health care system functional in times of crisis.
Another private sector partner GIZ brought on board to work with the Ghana Health Service for the coronavirus response is a small Ghanaian company called Oasis which included COVID-19 in their existing health information app called BISA (which means ‘to ask’ in the local Twi language). With BMZ funding, the BISA team and the Ghanaian Health Services disease surveillance and health promotion departments train final-year medical students in telemedicine. The telemedicine team will be available to discuss caller’s symptoms, refer patients for either treatment or self-isolation and then follow up with people who are self-isolating with a daily call for two weeks. The app should be up and running by July and that with adequate data protection, the information generated will be available for research purposes.
Dr Till believes that many of these new partnerships will become the handmaiden to more sustainable, longer-term and systematic partnerships between partner countries’ health systems and the private sector.