Business leaders will also become health leaders in the future

Tuesday May 19 2020

A man assembles new treatment beds at a field

A man assembles new treatment beds at a field hospital built for Covid-19 patients, Aga Khan University Hospital in Nairobi, Kenya. PHOTO |BAZ RATNER |REUTERS 

NERIMA WAKO-OJIWA
By NERIMA WAKO-OJIWA
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When it comes to matters development, sustainable plans of action come with information based on data collection and research.

Working in the youth sector, it is often difficult to find information on young people. When it comes to collecting data, the questions asked are just as important as conclusions and purpose of the research.

But do we utilise research as much as we should? The seriousness of data collection is not quite understood in Africa.

During this pandemic period, we have been depending heavily on health care workers, and anyone who works in that sector.

How much do we care about biological research? During US President George W. Bush administration, Aids was at the fore of every country’s planning, and it was a disease that was not understood, countries grappled with finding a cure and a way to curb its spread.

Bush launched the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), which provided $80 billion to HIV/Aids treatment, prevention and research. This was the largest global health programme focused on a single disease. And the ripple effect was felt in Africa. For Kenya, people had access to ARV’s, counselling, and also free testing.

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As countries race toward producing a vaccine for Covid-19, right now the big issue is about finding a cure. However, as soon as a vaccine is produced, a lot of ethical questions will rise. Will countries have to pay for it? Who gets the vaccine first?

The current projection for a vaccine is next year, but until then, there has to be a tight balance between health and the economy.

We will live with the virus for a while and the continued practice of social distancing and wearing masks in public. Work shifts will be affected as organisations figure out ways to reduce Covid-19 spread.

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey recently announced that employees can work from home permanently. Companies are already making plans to what will become the new normal for their organisations.

Alex Gorsky, CEO of Johnson and Johnson talks about how “every business leader will become a health leader in the future.”

He says this because business owners will have to start thinking of ways to keep their employees safe, and customers as well, following the restrictions such as social distancing and other measures.

It is a shame that what has been highlighted is lack of preparedness when it comes to health investment in Africa. The handful number of ICU beds or ventilators which have up to serve millions of citizens.

But there has been positive news about research, and the equipment that is being invented locally in response to the pandemic. Our leaders need to heavily invest in this.

Nerima Wako-Ojiwa, executive director, Siasa Place @NerimaW

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