Following his recent induction into Bloomberg’s inaugural ‘New Economy Catalysts’ cohort, our CEO, Abasi Ene-Obong sat down with Business Insider Africa’s Victor Oluwole to discuss the company’s goals and data-driven healthcare in Africa.
The interview began with Abasi’s story and journey to becoming a rising force in healthcare innovation, to which he responded:
“I would not describe myself as an innovator. I think I am doing the work that needs to be done. If I am an innovator, perhaps it’s because I faced this challenge head-on and was persistent as well as fortunate in timing. I am lucky that our work is making an impact.”
When asked about where he envisioned genomics in 10 years, Abasi emphasized on the growing impact of genomics across all scientific disciplines, and how its rising influence would lead to increased personalised healthcare and accelerated development of disease-specific treatments. He also stated a great belief of his – the eventual discovery of human interconnection through genomics in the distant future.
Abasi also highlighted the biggest opportunities and obstacles impacting innovation in the healthcare environment as thus:
“Each environment has its unique set of challenges and opportunities, nationally, regionally, and globally. Across borders, one of the major obstacles, and at the same time a big opportunity, is that of disparities in healthcare. Disparities in healthcare are propagated where there is a lack of funding innovation into healthcare. Wealthy regions of the world have developed their healthcare environments significantly more than poorer regions; and even within some regions – wealthy or not – funding for healthcare infrastructure, let alone innovation, is disproportionally distributed and/or mismanaged. This has become the status quo for how our healthcare environments have developed, but this is now unsustainable in today’s globalised world, where an event in one part of the world can shut down all systems across the globe.
Hence, the only sustainable model for healthcare innovation looks in equal parts at rich and poor regions, regardless of ethnic or cultural lines. This also means healthcare must become more collaborative. My only fear is history repeating itself, where the strong “prey” on the weak. Today’s generation of leaders must seek to do things differently, particularly in the healthcare space, to ensure there is a win-win mindset as an acceleration of technology and funding creates more value.”
When asked who he saw as the greatest driving force for innovation in healthcare, his response was:
“Innovation is being driven by all stakeholders. However, I do think the voice we hear the least is that of the patients. In an ideal world, the drive for innovation should come significantly from the patients. In the end, Pharma, Providers, Payers and Doctors really work for the patient. And I believe now and increasingly into the future that the patient will have a stronger share of voice in driving innovation. With the increase of social media, accessibility to information, and patient advocacy groups, patients are demanding better care and better services. And, as I spoke about earlier, healthcare and treatment is becoming more and more personalised, which means whether an individual patient vocalises their needs or not, their genetics certainly will; and that has a profound influence on driving innovation upon pharma, providers, payers, and physicians.”
When asked how the COVID-19 pandemic affected innovation receptiveness in healthcare, Abasi said that he believed that a pandemic should not be the only stimulant for innovation, adding that all stakeholders should continuously work together in order to prevent future pandemics.
On a final note, he shared some insightful entrepreneurship nuggets, stating,
“I believe the entrepreneurship journey is one of discovery. Always stay learning and never think you know everything. Be open to change. Allow growth to happen, and don’t fight it. Find joy and happiness in the little things. And enjoy the work you do!”
To read the full interview, click here