[Interview] Dr. Allan Pamba, Executive Vice President, Africa, Roche Diagnostics
Roche is a global pioneer in pharmaceuticals and diagnostics focused on advancing science to improve people’s lives. It is one of the largest biotech companies, with a concentration on oncology, immunology, infectious diseases, ophthalmology and diseases of the central nervous system among other areas.
The company’s Executive Vice President for Africa Dr. Allan Pamba elaborates.
Introduce your company
Founded in 1896 in Basel, Switzerland, Roche has grown into the world’s largest biotechnology company and the global leader in in-vitro diagnostics with headquarters in Africa, the Americas, Europe, Asia and Oceana.
The company pursues scientific excellence to discover and develop medicines and diagnostics for improving and saving the lives of people around the world.
Roche is a pioneer in personalised healthcare and dedicated to transforming how healthcare is delivered to have an even greater impact. Roche has also been named one of the most sustainable companies in the pharmaceuticals industry by the Dow Jones Sustainability Indices for the thirteenth consecutive year.
This distinction reflects the company’s efforts to improve access to healthcare together with local partners in every country where it works. Roche has multiple global shareholders.
What does Roche bring to the health sector that isn’t present at the moment?
Roche stands by its mission: “Doing now what patients need next”. The company drives access for patients – particularly in regions where barriers exist. Roche has a history of partnership with governments, development and technical agencies, implementing organisations, civil society and the private sector, all of which are strategically formulated to drive patient access.
What is Roche’s growth strategy for 2023?
Roche will continue to focus on finding new medicines and quality diagnostics, with an extended focus on data-based insights that evolve the practice of medicine and help patients live longer, better lives.
A critical part of the company’s growth strategy is to drive strong laboratory systems and to empower lab workers with the necessary skills and technologies to make early diagnosis the norm, even in the most remote of areas, leveraging digital transformation wherever possible. Cultivating partnerships that will strengthen laboratory systems is a core driver of Roche’s strategy, which is geared at building a strong diagnostic backbone for African countries.
What are the long term ambitions you’re aiming for?
Roche has a 10-year strategic plan to deliver twice the medical advances at half the cost to society. Roche has always maintained its position as a pioneer in healthcare, and aims to continue to transform the industry in the next 10 years, shifting social expectations and setting new healthcare precedents globally. Technological transformation is a core driver of progress, and Roche will consistently pursue innovative new solutions to deliver better care to patients.
Roche will also focus on remaining an employer of choice, attracting and retaining top talent through strong employee engagement, diversity and inclusion and a purpose-driven culture.
What opportunities should businesses look out for in 2023?
Technology is pushing the boundaries on healthcare delivery and the way business is conducted across the board. Through digitisation and technological advancements, healthcare is undergoing a fundamental transformation. Businesses must evolve with technology in order to remain profitable and relevant.
In your opinion, what government policies should be implemented for companies to thrive?
Roche proactively and responsibly engages with public policy stakeholders, sharing relevant data and insights, as well as the company’s perspective, to inform the public debate. This is a fundamental aspect of good public governance. Roche seeks to inform and work closely with government officials in order to highlight and address the issues that affect the healthcare industry and advance its regulatory framework. This is an ongoing process and addresses various policy issues depending on local context.
How will Africa develop as a knowledge economy in 2023 and how can companies contribute?
Increased investment in healthcare, education and fostering a culture of entrepreneurship and innovation are critical in driving a knowledge economy. Technology and digitisation should be leveraged to extend the distribution of knowledge continent-wide. Investment in digital infrastructure is of the utmost importance, as is investment in healthcare, as healthier populations perform better economically.
What are the opportunities for healthcare in Africa in 2023?
Public-private partnerships have proved to be effective mechanisms in driving better healthcare access for all. Collaboration between governments, development and technical agencies, implementing organisations, civil society and the private sector is the key to building a better healthcare infrastructure across the continent.
Digitisation and technology should be welcomed as vehicles through which better healthcare interventions can be delivered to patients.
Any news or information from Roche that you’d like to share?
Collaborative efforts in many areas have led to better outcomes for patients, for example:
Roche has partnered with the Johns Hopkins Program for International Education in Gynecology and Obstetrics (Jhpiego) to improve women’s health outcomes by removing barriers to early detection and treatment of HPV and cervical cancer.
A coordinated effort with the Ministry of Health, Centre National de Lutte Contre Cancer, Bollore and other stakeholders from government ministries in Kenya helped Roche test and improve the supply chain and transport of life-saving cold batch therapies to patients.
Roche has expanded its Lab Networks for Health collaboration with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to strengthen laboratory capabilities in countries greatly affected by the HIV and tuberculosis (TB) epidemics.
The Roche Global Access Program aims to expand access to quality, sustainable diagnostic testing while contributing to the UNAIDS HIV 90-90-90 elimination goal. By working together with international agencies, non-governmental organisations and governments at the global, regional and local level, the Global Access Program takes a holistic and collaborative approach to improving health system diagnostic capacity and improve patient outcomes in low- and low-middle income countries (LMICs).
In Kenya, the EMPOWER project is an integrated women’s health initiative aimed at contributing to the prevention, early diagnosis and treatment of breast and cervical cancers. In a unique partnership between public, private and not-for-profit organisations, 17 EMPOWER clinics have been established across rural Kenya. These clinics have also trained 300 community health workers and healthcare professionals in facility- and community-based screening. Thus far, more than 25,000 women have been screened and 950 women are now receiving treatment.
Roche has entered a three-year partnership with Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Centre (KCMC) and Philipps-University Marburg, geared at strengthening the diagnostics infrastructure and capacity in Moshi, Tanzania. The state-of-the-art diagnostics centre of excellence established through the partnership will drive sustainable capacity building, infrastructure optimisation and establish the necessary skill sets at KCMC to meet local needs.
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