Fiona Cook and Elvin Blankson at the meeting
Sandoz, a global leader in generic and bio-similar medicines, committed to playing a leading role in driving access to medicine worldwide, is supporting Ghanaian health entrepreneur, Elvin Blankson, to expand his social enterprise, GoPharma.
GoPharma was among the top three winners of Sandoz Healthcare Access Challenge (HACk), a competition that ran as a pilot last year calling for ideas aimed at finding solutions to access to healthcare in communities around the world.
GoPharma, a social enterprise, which is currently being run on pilot basis, combines pharmacy with phones to bring better healthcare to regions that in some cases still rely on mythical beliefs, was awarded an equivalent of €20,000 and mentorship to kick-start the enterprise.
Senior officials of Sandoz visited Elvin last week in Accra to ascertain the progress of his enterprise, as well as visit some of the pharmacies who are already benefitting from his idea and learn first-hand how Sandoz HACk has made his vision a reality.
Interacting with the media during the visit, Fiona Cook, corporate responsibility manager, expressed Sandoz’s desire to shine the light on local ideas that support access to healthcare in communities around the world.
“The reason we did that is, as an organisation we do not know all the healthcare access challenge or have all the questions and right answers but we do know that other people in the local communities do and they also have great ideas on how to provide effective solution,” she told DAILY GUIDE.
She said access to medicine in rural areas is a challenge, thus, using licensed chemical dealers and pharmacists as focal points to build linkages between the dealers and pharmacists in urban areas to facilitate access to certain medications is an idea worth supporting.
Elvin, through the use of a simple app — GoPharma — is able to build the capacity of technicians and connect with pharmacists in real time to provide expert service to patients in villages.
He expressed his delight at the award, saying winning the prize has been really helpful, especially in Ghana, where it is difficult raising funds for a social enterprise.
“So if you have an organisation that understands that there is a motive for social good as well as profit and they are willing to help it means a lot to me,” he said.
Mr Blankson said apart from the prize money, there has been a lot of support, mentorship and business support from Sandoz in rolling out the pilot in 16 pharmacies in three regions of the country.
“We are now looking at rolling it out fully next year,” he stated.
By Jamila Akweley Okertchiri