Current Issue 53
Accelerating the New Africa
Missionpharma Zambia Ltd’s goal to ensure safe and secure healthcare processes on an entirely localised scale is set to save lives and innovate the most encompassing of sectors
Writer: Matthew Staff
Project Manager: Callam Waller
Missionpharma Zambia has entered new territory over the past 18 months as it looks to change the dynamics of Zambia’s healthcare sector through a localisation and enrichment focus that is set to facilitate sustainability previously unseen in the country’s industry.
Although technically present in Zambia for more than 20 years alongside Ngansa Pharmaceuticals - before also operating as a subsidiary for Eurapharma from 2012 as well - it was 2015 that signified the modern day Missionpharma Zambia that is so reputed today. Unveiling his plan for truly localised prominence alongside Ngansa’s owner, Clement Andala, the Company’s General Manager, Jacob Thorup Cohn initiated a journey that is set to bring long-term stability and healthcare prevalence to a country eagerly awaiting such an approach.
“At Missionpharma Zambia we combine the strengths of Ngansa’s insights into the B2B world in Zambia, and our group volume deliveries to the public Sector,” Cohn introduces. “Then we also introduce our hospital equipment division under the Missionpharma umbrella; making significant investments into local stock and local training, to both create jobs and to provide service possibilities for the hospitals, which they have not had before.”
The business’ core function is to assure the Government and NGOs that the generic drugs they are acquiring are safe across the board; securing both production and importation facets in the process.
“Poor generic drugs are not only dangerous for the individual patient, but also for societies as a whole,” Cohn adds. “And from our original quality assurance for individual items we have developed into being the largest manufacturer of medical kits in the world, basically utilising our quality assurance capacity, which today includes employment of pharmacists on three different continents, compounded by our strong logistics experience from supplying pharmaceuticals globally.
“In the past decade we have focused more on bringing big brands to the African market to respond to a growing middle class and more recently we have expanded into the equipment area where our willingness to invest and train locally fits well with current trends.”
Consistent and genuine
Of course, local enrichment and sustainability is not a new concept for any country, but the ability and inclination to put your money where your mouth is and to actually - and wholly - commit to such an idea is a rarity. For Missionpharma Zambia though, this is precisely the concept and philosophy being adhered to in enacting a long-term methodology for improvement which remaining successful as an enterprise simultaneously.
Cohn elaborates: “Generally speaking we as Missionpharma Zambia will focus on the same management ideas that made the pre-established Missionpharma a success.
“This is to be first movers in the industry, whether that is from technology, business ideas or country entrance perspectives. We seek to respond to needs before they arrive. The second aspect is a consistent focus on quality assurance. Pharmaceuticals save lives but they can also harm them and even take them if the focus on quality is not consistent and genuine.”
The third contributor to the Company’s sustainable success is through creating a conducive and great place to work for employees; in turn, ensuring long-term retention of much needed, hard working, skilled personnel.
“Despite being a young firm, several employees has already been oversees to receive education and training, to strengthen their ability to teach colleagues and assist clients. We have identified areas where the Zambian market has a gap and have reacted accordingly,” Cohn continues.
Such an ethos helps the business to react more speedily and effectively to pressing trends such as the growing issue of diabetes in Zambia at present. The establishment of a diabetes unit with some of the best educated people in the country manning it is an indictment of Missionpharma Zambia’s influence to this end. Similarly, a US$300,000 order to support the first Zambian manufacturer able to meet the Company’s quality assurance demands promises to be a vital stepping stone in its overall, localised vertical integration ambitions.
“Placing the order is a huge success, because manufacturing locally is what I hope we will continue to be able to do. The placement of this order is hopefully also seen as an encouragement to others to show that a focus on quality matters,”
And in order to facilitate Missionpharma Zambia’s own extensive growth, capital expenditures to the tune of seven digits will bring about a new, modern facility able to meet growing quality standards, required transparency and enhanced kit packing monitoring procedures.
Passing the baton
Bar-coding assembly lines and state-of-the-art modern production systems will also be incorporated into the new facility, while the Company is also in the process of transferring tech transfer processes from its Indian site to its African hub to once again fulfil localisation goals.
“In our industry the trend on local procurement is also increasing,” Cohn notes, “and this is partially driven by the donors but also as the Government is increasingly more capable of utilising their own funds.
“This requires more of a local presence and the movement of activities from overseas into Zambia; including a significant amount of activities across our kit assembly production. This would provide a huge job boost and would create plenty of business for various Zambian companies as a kit production facility requires several different types of supplies, not just pharmaceuticals.”
Compliance to international pharmaceutical standards and the adjacent transparency that is needed for long-term stability are slowly coming to fruition; increasing the amount of healthy competition in the market and reducing the amount of dangerous drugs entering the market from further afield.
And by building this indigenous network, Cohn is more than happy to admit that the overriding goal would be to make himself redundant to Missionpharma Zambia in the long-term, as the country’s talent pool becomes concerted enough to man the company - and wider industry - themselves.
“My Danish colleague, Lise Lotte, who has been in Zambia for 15 months as a trainer and educator in IT systems and order processing, will be leaving us at the end of June, 2017,” the GM explains. “Her task is complete, her function is now handled by a Zambian colleague and this is a perfect example of how expats should be utilised.”
Cohn concludes: “Therefore, in the future, I hope that you will not be speaking to me here, but to an ambitious Zambian national leader who will have taken the baton from me and lifted the Company even higher.
“We will have achieved the transfer of knowledge to the extent where Missionpharma Zambia is competitive outside of the country; we will have a sales force which - as a minimum - has increased by 100 percent; and a kit assembly line that might be able to employ as many as 100 people. We will be the biggest player in hospital equipment and a strong brand in the B2B arena.”