AFRICA – Siemens Healthineers and the United Nations Children’s Fund UNICEF have announced a collaboration to help strengthen fragile health systems in Sub-Saharan Africa by improving diagnostic access and treatment linkage.
Siemens Healthineers will support UNICEF’s work to prevent maternal, newborn, and child deaths, as well as promote the health and development of all children, with a €5 million (US$5.68 million) grant.
Despite the fact that they are preventable and treatable, common infectious diseases such as early infant HIV or tuberculosis continue to be major causes of death in young children.
More than 5 million children under the age of five died globally in 2020, nearly half of them newborn babies, and 2.2 million children and youth aged 5 to 24 died, mostly from preventable causes.
Many families from low- and middle-income countries, particularly in rural areas, have limited access to healthcare and diagnostic medical testing.
They are faced with challenges of limited infrastructure and human resource capacity, as well as ineffective sample referral and transportation, resulting in long turnaround times for test results.
Accordingly, Point-of-Care (POC) diagnostics can help fill gaps by performing tests in the same location where care is delivered, allowing for timely diagnosis and treatment initiation.
This is especially useful in areas with limited laboratory infrastructure, such as Sub-Saharan Africa. POC testing platforms can improve access and speed diagnosis and treatment for infectious diseases like COVID-19, early infant HIV, tuberculosis, and noncommunicable diseases.
Throughout the five-year partnership, Siemens Healthineers and UNICEF will explore additional opportunities for collaboration, leveraging each organization’s strengths, such as technical expertise and business networks, to better respond to the needs of children and their families.
Around 3 billion people lack access to basic medical care. It’s both a privilege and an obligation for us, as one of the drivers of innovation in medical technology, to make healthcare accessible for everyone, everywhere.”
Focus on Sub-Saharan countries
Siemens Healthineers and UNICEF’s five-year partnership will begin with a focus on sub-Saharan African countries.
Efforts will be made to optimize national diagnostics networks by using a data-driven approach to identifying needs and redesigning network organization.
The collaboration will also work to strengthen key elements of local health systems that are required to overcome infrastructure challenges and to support testing decentralization through POC technologies.
Because communities are among the primary recipients of diagnostic services, the collaboration will also help to engage communities and improve diagnostic literacy, as well as awareness of the benefits and availability of diagnostic testing.
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