MEDICAL EQUIPMENT

Zambia 2017 | HEALTH & EDUCATION | B2B

International health expertise is being increasingly localized, and these players are keen to train local staff and create in country health value chains that add more value to the economy.

Nimrod Njamba
NIMROD NJAMBA
Head of Sales and Marketing Zambia
B. Braun
Jacob Thorup Cohn
JACOB THORUP COHN
General Manager
Missionpharma

How did your respective companies move to Zambia?

NIMROD NJAMBA B. Braun needed a way to develop its business in Zambia. We began looking for companies in Zambia that would make good partners and could import B. Braun products and sell them to the private sector. Our products are typically imported via a local distributor and then sold to local hospitals. We also discussed the option of opening a subsidiary in Nairobi. The Zambia operations currently operate under the authority of the South African subsidiary, because southern African countries have a much easier time operating in Zambia. Despite certain economic challenges, Zambia has a great deal of potential. Zambia is open-minded, politically stable, and well located. Doing business is straightforward and easy. Such an atmosphere fosters development and growth. In comparison to our neighbors, we have a large population; therefore, our market has a great deal of potential.

JACOB THORUP COHN Initially Missionpharma focused on supplying pharmaceuticals to Christian missions, primarily in Africa and in 1996 it began its first collaboration in Zambia through a local wholesaler, Ngansa Pharmaceuticals. Over the years the collaboration has expanded into a strong partnership, which culminated in early 2016 when Missionpharma acquired Ngansa Pharmaceuticals with the purpose of establishing Missionpharma Zambia. We believe that the right way to participate in the acceleration of the new Africa is to be nationally established. Countries in Africa are strengthening national skills aiming to be less dependent on outside assistance and subsequently there is an increased focus on national job creation, heavily supported by the donor community. Zambia has strong ambitions on the healthcare side, and it is not difficult to understand why the government wants money spent on buying pharmaceuticals to be circulated within the Zambian economy, through job creation and subsequently taxation.

What products do you offer to the Zambian market?

NN B. Braun has more than 5,000 products in its portfolio, 95% of which we manufacture ourselves. In Zambia, we focus more on dialysis-related products. However, we also have dealings in general hospital care, including products such as anesthesia products, wound care, and surgical instruments. B. Braun does not manufacture in Zambia, and although we are unsure when this will occur, it is on the horizon. As a company in Africa, we want to have our manufacturing as close as possible. We currently produce in Johannesburg, and it is likely that a similar operation could open in Zambia.

JTC Missionpharma has been predominantly focused on the public market, while Ngansa has been operating in both. The establishment of Missionpharma Zambia will see a continuation of the work in the public market, with an increased focus on the private market. Missionpharma Zambia is investing in building an equipment and service portfolio, which will both enhance the use of current equipment in the hospitals and also create national jobs. Instead of employing bio engineers from abroad, we will employ locally and train internationally when needed.

How do you assess the domestic market?

NN We are approaching the level of care and quality that can be found in a European facility. If a government hospital has a B. Braun machine, then international standards of care are being met. We are almost on par with the region in terms of equipment and product offerings. At B. Braun, we seek to learn from the doctors here while simultaneously providing our own know-how. We support various Zambian medical organizations and associations by bringing in doctors from around the world to host workshops and seminars, and also support conferences through the Pharmaceutical Society of Zambia and the Anesthesia Society of Zambia.

JTC There is domestic manufacturing ability in Zambia, and it offers a lot of potential, but several measures need to be put in place for this to be boosted. We are discussing the possibility of importing expertise to Zambia in order to train and foster local expertise. We have many years of expertise in finding ambitious manufacturers who are willing to do what it takes to exceed national expectation and reach an internationally acceptable quality, and we work with them to these ends. The future of the pharmaceutical industry in Zambia is not to supply cheap products that no one outside the country will buy. The future for Zambia is to build in-house capacity and develop an industry that produces quality products worthy of export. Zambia is keen to ensure quality and quality investments, and we hope that the Zambian Medicine Regulatory Agency (ZAMRA) will play a key role in this. There is also a drive to make ZAMRA an authority independent of the Ministry of Health. This will help to ensure quality pharmaceuticals are developed, and that there will be no conflict of interest when tendering supply contracts.