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GE Healthcare’s Versana Premier: Driving Access to Affordable Healthcare in South Africa

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The launch took place in multiple customer sites in Johannesburg, Pretoria and Cape Town

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, March 8, 2019 — GE Healthcare has today announced the launch of Versana Premier for the first time in South Africa. The launch took place in multiple customer sites in Johannesburg, Pretoria and Cape Town.

Versana Premier is part of the Versana ultrasound family, which comprises of solutions that help empower care without compromise, balancing capability, affordability, and reliability. This innovative system is well suited for general practice clinics, physical check-up centers, community health clinics, and other facilities offering basic medical care. A wide variety of ultrasound probes and clinical features allows healthcare professionals to provide quick and comfortable exams, see clearly, and confidently diagnose a broad range of conditions covering abdominal, OB/GYN, cardiac, urology, vascular and musculoskeletal exams.

Part of GE’s new Versana Ultrasound range, affordable care Versana Premier is easy to use and easy to own. This world-class ultrasound is designed for peace of mind and making healthcare accessible to all. It also comes with local product and clinical training to help healthcare professionals

gain comfort and proficiency with the system to enhance patient care.

“As players in South Africa’s healthcare industry, each one of us has a responsibility to lead the way in improving the quality of healthcare and support the country’s vision in achieving Universal Health Coverage (UHC) for all,” said Graham Maritz, General Manager, GE Healthcare Southern Africa.  “Through continuous investment in innovation and education, GE Healthcare is dedicated to drive access to affordable healthcare in collaboration with our partners through solutions such as Versana Premier.”

As part of the United Nations sustainable development goals, UHC means that every person, everywhere, should have access to quality healthcare. South Africa is in the process of introducing an innovative system of healthcare financing through the National Health Insurance (NHI) to ensure that everyone has access to appropriate, efficient and quality health services.

GE is proud to have established its first international office in South Africa more than 100 years ago. Through a range of strategic partnerships and localization commitments, GE is proudly supporting sustainable healthcare development working with both the public and private sectors, to help improve health outcomes for all South Africans.

– GE Healthcare

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GE Healthcare Advancing Universal Health Coverage in Ghana

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GE Healthcare’s Eyong Ebai, General Manager West Central & French Sub-Sahara with Hon Alexander K. K. Abban Ghana’s Deputy Minister of Health, Farid Fezoua President & CEO GE Healthcare Africa and Sulemana Abubakar, CEO GE Ghana during Ghana Healthcare Dialogues event. Source: GE

A key highlight of the event was the unveiling of GE Healthcare’s new budget-conscious ultrasound system, the Versana Essential

ACCRA, Ghana, June 12, 2019 – GE Healthcare has kicked-off a two-day “Healthcare Dialogues” event in Ghana, bringing together public and private sectors’ industry stakeholders including policy makers, healthcare professionals, decision makers, academia, investors and financing institutions to drive conversations around innovative sustainable healthcare solutions to help progress Ghana’s Universal Health Coverage (UHC). Under the theme of Elevating Healthcare through Collaborations, key topics to be discussed include Structuring Innovative Healthcare Financing Solutions; Ghana’s Vision for UHC; the Future of Radiology with Artificial Intelligence (AI); Healthcare Technology Innovations, among other topics.

Also Read HealthPoint Promote Health Inclusion For Widows And Orphans In Nigeria

A key highlight of the event was the unveiling of GE Healthcare’s new budget-conscious ultrasound system, the Versana Essential. It has excellent image quality and can be used by obstetricians and gynecologists, family and general practice physicians, and clinicians in a number of other specialties, making healthcare accessible to promote maternal healthcare in Ghana.  It also comes with local product and clinical training backed with GE’s solid aftersales service to help healthcare professionals gain comfort and proficiency with the system to enhance patient care.

“Promoting health for all is key in accelerating Ghana’s vision for Universal Health Coverage,” said Eyong Ebai, General Manager, GE Healthcare West Central Africa & French Sub-Sahara Africa. “Through collaborations, continuous investment in sustainable healthcare solutions and capacity building, GE Healthcare will continue driving access to quality and affordable healthcare in the region.”

Ghana has been recognized for its commitment to address barriers to health care services and attainment of UHC by 2030 by providing formal support to its vulnerable population through its National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS).  In 2018 https://bit.ly/2ZnK1yV, NHIS had increased to about 11 million people from the 1.3 million memberships at inception in 2005, representing 38% of Ghana’s population. In addition, the healthcare system engages over 4,000 public and private providers and accounts for about 85% of its internally-generated fund.

“We are proud to host the GE Healthcare Dialogues in Ghana and provide a platform for the industry stakeholders to advance the country’s healthcare agenda,” said Sulemana Abubakar, CEO GE Ghana. “This is a testament of our role as a global leader with local presence, to drive better outcomes for people in the markets in which we operate.”

GE started its operations in Ghana in 2010 with only 5 employees and has grown to 100+ employees currently 90% Ghanaians, with two offices in Accra and Takoradi. Through strategic partnerships and localization commitments, GE is supporting co-creation of solutions to tackle key challenges in Healthcare, power and oil & gas to help improve life for the people of Ghana. GE Healthcare in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and the Ghana Health Service is also training and equipping healthcare professionals at the primary healthcare level with over 500 portable ultrasound machines across 125 of Ghana’s 216 districts. As a result, 1.5 million expectant Ghanaian women are expected to benefit from the initiative by 2020.

GE.

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Engaging community healthcare workers in addressing primary healthcare crises in Nigeria

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Image credit: VON

We are currently facing a primary healthcare crisis in Nigeria and speedy intervention is needed to salvage and enhance access to health care for our ever growing population.

Community health workers have the potential to enhance primary care access and quality, but remain underutilised in Nigeria.

A WHO report by Uta Lehmann and David Sanders from the School of Public Health University of the Western Cape, says;

‘The use of community health workers has been identified as one strategy to address the growing shortage of health workers, particularly in low-income countries. Using community members to render certain basic health services to the communities they come from is a concept that has been around for at least 50 years. There have been innumerable experiences throughout the world with programmes ranging from largescale, national programmes to small-scale, community-based initiatives’ (Evidence and Information for Policy, Department of Human Resources for Health Geneva, January 2007)

It is common knowledge that  we do not have trained physician associates or assistants in primary care facilities to support medical doctors in providing primary care services; rather what we have in some  communities are quacks, people parading themselves as medical doctors with no medical qualification what so ever.

But I don’t see any reason why we should not welcome the idea of training physician associates or assistants to fill in the gap for medical staff shortage, when other developing and developed countries that have better healthcare systems do have them.

In Nigeria we do not have enough doctors per population or geographical area, This is the time to train up more community health care workers as this would help in the much needed awareness creation and community based interventions for  managing long term conditions, reducing childhood illnesses due to lack of immunisation. Trained birth attendants will also help reduce maternal mortality and community nursing care will reduce infant mortality.

In a typical medical centre in the UK for instance, healthcare assistants, advanced nurse practitioners, health trainers, clinical pharmacists or prescribers, work alongside doctors to provide patient centered care. This helps to reduce the work load on the doctors as these other clinicians and allied health workers have enough training and experience to manage long term conditions and participate in triage system.

In the UK, a lot of research has been done and there are calls to increase the health work force in the National Health Service (NHS) through the utilisation of community-based lay workers.

Below is an extract from a research published in the journal of Royal society of medicine curated by Dawn O’Shea:

‘’Introducing a workforce of community-based lay health workers in the NHS could address current general practitioners (GP) workload demands, while improving clinical outcomes, according to research published in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine.

In the 1960s, programmes in the US funded members of the community provide a bridge between patients and health care providers. By facilitating appointment-keeping and increasing medication compliance, community health workers improved access to and quality of health care, while reducing costs.

In Brazil, community health workers receive basic training in disease identification and monitoring, immunisation, screening and health promotion. They support patients with medication adherence and chronic disease monitoring and liaise proactively with GPs and practice nurses…..

The authors conclude that systematic integration of community health workers at scale in the NHS could be an effective and a rapidly implementable approach to the current primary care workload crisis’’.

(Hayhoe B & al.  | J R Soc Med | 4 Oct 2018     from Dawn O’Shea | UK Medical News | 8 Oct 2018)

Another important area where the community healthcare workforce could be utilised effectively is emergency care or first aid. In most public and private places in Nigeria, there are no ambulance or paramedic services; having well trained community first aid responders would go a long way to save lives in times of emergency for example; cardiac arrest, collapse, and respiratory distress. Having a health unit manned by well-trained first aid responders in all public places like markets, motor parks etc is highly essential.

Healthcare provision anywhere in the world is capital intensive but we can start from the basics; we can reduce the burden or costs in secondary healthcare provision especially in our public hospitals if we lay more emphasis on patient health education and encourage people to engage in healthy living and self-care. Integrated healthcare practice at all levels is an efficient way of providing patient centered care where every member of the healthcare team contributes their quota.

Community healthcare workers are well placed to offer advice on healthy living and self-care in the language people of a specific demographic area would understand.

Hypertension, Chronic Kidney Disease, Type 2 diabetes mellitus, malaria, HIV/AIDs are among the diseases that could be prevented or well managed through patient education and lifestyle advise.

The role of health education cannot be overemphasized. For instance, there is still some form of stigma around epilepsy in some areas in the country; where people who are epileptic are believed to be possessed by some sort of evil spirits, in an unfortunate event of epileptic fits in public places, patients are not well cared for and objects like spoon etc. are inserted into their mouths in the believe that it keeps the airways open, this could be a choking hazard and has made recovery time worse for some patient. Community healthcare workers could perfectly fill that gap of providing basic health education and public health enlightenment.

In conclusion, addressing the primary healthcare crises in Nigeria is no mean feat, but we need to look at the issue holistically, it involves a multifaceted, public and private partnership, but the Government has to lead on this through the inaction of relevant laws and provision of training programmes, monitoring and evaluation etc.

Without health, life is not life; it is only a state of languor and suffering.     

Francois Rabelais

 

Author:

Adaku Efuribe

Clinical Pharmacist/UN SDG Advocate

 

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The benefits of medicines optimisation and patient centred care in disease management outcomes and the role of the pharmacist.

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According to the Royal Pharmaceutical Society ‘Medicines optimisation represents that step change. It is a patient-focused approach to getting the best from investment in and use of medicines that requires a holistic approach, an enhanced level of patient centred professionalism, and partnership between clinical professionals and a patient’.

I believe medicines optimisation is about ensuring that patients receive the right kind of medication at the right time and medicines use review is a step towards the direction in achieving this. It focuses on making patients get the best out of their medicines.

Evidence has shown that a good number of medicines prescribed end up not being taken due to lack of concordance and compliance.

My experience in community pharmacy with patient returned medication has shown that patients who do not understand the rationale for prescribed medication are more likely not to use the medication.

Also medication which are preventative in nature are at a higher risk of non-compliance as patients do not see the immediate benefits of taking such medication.

A lot of work needs to be done in the area of patient education and information provided through medicines use reviews.

The gains of patient entered care cannot be overemphasised, all medical needs have to be tailored to the individual patient, considering their personal circumstances, other co-morbidities, and sometimes frailty comes into consideration for some elderly patients as well.

There has been a drive for more social prescribing, motivational counselling and interventions for patients who have suffered medical emergencies or patients with long term conditions. Evidence has shown that non-pharmacological interventions have a major role to play in achieving overall general health and wellbeing.

Social prescribing and befriending services can help curb loneliness especially in the elderly as loneliness contributes to depression and could make dementia related symptoms worse.

Outcome in healthcare delivery has seen some improvements when patients have been through some social prescribing when their domestic needs are met and they at least have some form of social life and social activity, this leads to improved wellbeing and mood which in turn contributes remarkably to the disease management outcome.

Pharmacist led medication review tend to be more in-depth ,capturing all the essence of patient centred care as it offers more time for the patient to ask medicines related questions which enhances concordance.

Factors such as wrong medication formulation could deter a patient from taking their medication; for instance a patient with swallowing difficulties would benefit from having solid medication forms converted to liquid preparations or orodispersible forms where appropriate.

Also the use of multiple dosage eye drops in the case of a glaucoma patient could be impaired if the patient is suffering from Parkinson’s disease or arthritis, as the patient is not able to instil drops into the eye. Such patient would benefit from an eye dropper device or single dose eye drop preparation.

It is during the medication review process that such issues are discussed and problems of non-compliance solved.

In the course of completing a medication review with one of my patients, It came to light why patient’s chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) was not well managed .This patient happened to be visually impaired and was unable to read the small typed instructions on the dispensing label and so assumed tiotropium capsules needed to be swallowed whole and not inserted into the inhalation device.

After I offered education, guidance and support to this patient, the patient was able to use her inhaler as intended and her COPD symptoms were well controlled eventually. In this case a possible COPD exacerbation or even hospital admission was prevented.

Medication reviews are needed to highlight issues of blood monitoring, therapeutic drug monitoring for medicines that require special monitoring; like methotrexate, diuretics, digoxin etc.

Annual blood tests are routinely checked because if dosage regimens are not adjusted or vital blood checks are not made, this may lead to increased harm to the patient or even death.

Multidisciplinary team approach is needed where every member of the health care team contributes their expertise in patient centred care.

Integrated health care approach will enhance delivery of outcomes. Clinicians need to work together to ensure adequate measures are put in place and everyone contributes their own quota for effective healthcare delivery.

The role of the pharmacist in medicines optimisation and patient centred care cannot be overemphasized.

 

Author

Adaku Efuribe is a Clinical Pharmacist and Independent Prescriber (specialising in pain management and general medicine).She is a United Nations Sustainable Development Goal Advocate and continues to advocate for better healthcare systems for all.

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