BY BENARD AYIEKO
Does the fact that the Dutch government is increasingly shifting focus from aid to trade pose a threat to the Dutch-Kenya relations?
Not at all, In fact, it’s a frontier for new and stronger partnerships on economic diplomacy with Kenya aimed at realizing growth and prosperity for the citizens of the two nations. Basically, the aid-to-trade policy calls for increased private sector engagement. The visit by the health business delegation is a testimony to the new found partnership between the private sectors of the two nations. This week (late June), the Vice-Minister for Agriculture of the Netherlands, Ms. Sonnema is also in Kenya to launch a new Kenya-Netherlands Agricultural Working Group with the aim of intensifying the long-standing trade relationship in the field of sustainable agriculture between the Netherlands and Kenya.
Share more about the composition and objective of this healthcare trade delegation from Netherlands?
The business delegation is led by our Vice Minister of Health, Welfare and Sports Dr. Erik Gerritsen and is made up of 22 Dutch companies on a three-day tour of Kenya in search of partnerships and investment opportunities in the Kenyan health sector. The theme of the visit is, “Achieving Universal Healthcare Through Partnerships”. This three-day business mission is meant to deepen knowledge and opportunities for Dutch companies in the life sciences and health sectors in Kenya in line with the “Aid to Trade” agenda by the Dutch government. The visit is in line with President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Big Four development plan especially with regard to the access to universal healthcare by all Kenyans.
The Dutch healthcare has been ranked by the Euro Health Consumer Index as the best performing European Healthcare system, why?
The philosophy underpinning the Dutch healthcare system is based on accessibility, affordability and provision of quality care. The ranking looks at the various parameters including accessibility, costs, results, patients’ rights and pharmaceuticals. The success of the Dutch healthcare is primarily credited to the unwavering support by both the Government and the private sector. The Netherlands offers integrated healthcare solutions that rely on innovative and patient-centric solutions. We have invested in training and education, health infrastructure (focusing on medical facilities and equipment), application of ICT in the healthcare (e-health) and healthcare financing and medical insurance.
Briefly describe the areas of business operations for the 22 visiting healthcare companies?
These companies offer innovative healthcare services, modern equipment and other pharmaceutical products which they are willing to share with their Kenyan counterparts. They range from access to prevention, treatment, care and support for patients suffering from Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs). Kenya is facing a growing number of people with chronic conditions and it’s projected to be the main disease burden by 2027. Some of these companies manufacture high quality and affordable imaging systems that are useful in early diagnosis of chronic ailments making it possible to treat, reduce costs associated with late detection and also prevent mortality.
How will the Embassy ensure Dutch-Kenya Private Sector Development in the health sector and other sectors?
First, we will ensure that the partnerships developed during this visit are supported through regular appraisals and calls aimed at dealing with any challenges that would forestall fruitful engagements going forward. Secondly, we will organize for more trade missions from both countries to promote sharing of knowledge and experience to ensure that the access to universal healthcare is achieved as envisioned in President Kenyatta’s Big Four development plan. This is complemented by Dutch supported initiatives aimed at improving to overall ease of doing business in Kenya as well as private sector development initiatives in other sectors such as agriculture.
Q6. Besides health, in what other sectors do you see opportunities for increased cooperation with Kenya?
There are many. Agriculture, for instance, is an innovative sector in the Netherlands. As the Netherlands is increasingly looking at promoting circular sustainable value chains there are many opportunities for collaboration in Kenya. Few weeks ago, the Vice-Minister of Agriculture of the Netherlands, Ms. Marjolijn Sonnema visited Kenya for a meeting with the Cabinet Secretary of Agriculture, Hon. Mwangi Kiunjuri, to launch a new Kenya-Dutch Agricultural Working Group. This working group will pave way for intensified trade relations between our countries as the working group allows for technical discussions on priority issues such as sustainable agriculture and circular economy. The aim is to strengthen agribusinesses working for instance in horticulture and floriculture. In conclusion, it’s safe to say there are so many opportunities for private sector development in Kenya. Now is the time to take advantage of those opportunities.