Philips eyes Kenya’s health sector

By Olive Burrows:

Kenyans often associate Philips with the television sets their parents owned. We want them to know we are also in the business of health,' Senior Vice President of Philips JJ van Dogen told  Kenya Capital FM News on Wednesday as he announced the donation of an ultra-sound machine to the Mathare North Health Centre.

The ultra-sound is intended to benefit over 5,000 women who visit the facility over the next year and through the project, Philips is hoping to see a five percent decrease in maternal death

'Philips has always put a lot of emphasis on maternal and child health. This programme is intended to increase the number of women seeking healthcare, the ability of the local healthcare facilities to attend to these women's needs and to reduce mortality rates due to availability of early screening,' Dogen explained.

The Mathare North project is what Dogen hopes is the first step in establishing itself as a major supplier of medical equipment in the country.

'It allows us a strong proof point to discuss with the Ministry of Health and we can be able to say this model seems to be sustainable, can we replicate it elsewhere, can we make modifications, how can we bring more partners on board to support us.'

Roelof Assies who was this month promoted to the General Manager of East Africa is optimistic like Dogen that the success of similar projects in Uganda, Egypt and Tanzania will be replicated in Kenya. 'By introducing this we hope to convince the government to roll out similar programmes in other parts of the country with a bit more equipment which is of course a win-win for both parties,' Assies said echoing Dogen.

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Assies will also be working towards growing the company's market share in the consumer lifestyle and lighting sector of which Philips is the market leader.

A growing middle-class, Dogen explained, has made Africa very appealing consumer market multi-nationals are looking to tap into, 'Six of the fastest growing economies in the world in the last 10 years are in sub-Saharan Africa.'

'There are major oil finds, gas finds, so you will find all these big multi-nationals who want to come into the market and we do see the numbers of those in the middle class increasing significantly throughout Africa.'

And while Philips has been supplying electronics to the country for more than six decades, the non-communicable diseases associated with a burgeoning middle-class have created a demand for medical equipment Philips plans on meeting.

'My priorities, in a region facing ongoing challenges, are to identify growth opportunities and boost Philips' commitment to develop relevant and sustainable solutions for Africa,' Dogen put in a nut shell.