Interview with Dr. Maxwell A. Antwi, Country Director of PharmAccess


Interview with Dr. Maxwell A. Antwi, Country Director of PharmAccess

GNBCC is pleased to share this article on its business member, PharmAccess, based on an interview with Dr. Maxwell, Country Director of PharmAccess.

Address and contact:

5 Dakar Avenue Lagos Street, East-Legon, P.O. Box CT 10245, East Cantonment, Accra. +233 (0)24 374 5376

Can you tell us about yourself and your journey to becoming Country Director for PharmAccess?

I am Maxwell Antwi and I am married with three kids and two adopted daughters. I was born into a very humble family where my dad was a cocoa farmer and my mum was a primary school teacher. I was a late bloomer and didn't do well in primary school until I got to secondary school when I began to understand what knowledge and cognition was and since then I like to tell myself that I can learn anything you give to me and so I like to encourage others parents that no matter how poorly their kids are doing in school they can still do well in life.

I ended up in medical school and afterwards specialized in gynaecology. I also spent some time studying at Radboud University in Nijmegen. During my career I spent a lot of time working in medical care for the government (Ghana Health Service) and in 2012, while still working with the Ministry of Health I was asked to start working for PharmAccess as a Quality Advisor and in 2013 I joined as a Program Manager.

What should our members know about PharmAccess?

PharmAccess is an international development organization that was founded about 21 years ago by the late Joep Lange in 2001 with the support of the Dutch government as an HIV/aids program because back then the governments in Sub-Saharan Africa were not providing HIV/aids medicines.

PharmAccess at that time was more like a vehicle to ensure that the staff on all Dutch related companies and embassies in Sub-Saharan Africa and their families had access to HIV medicines and demonstrate to governments and private sector that it was possible to do so in Africa. That's how the name came to existence, Pharm as in pharmacy and Access as in access to (HIV) medication.

Over the last five years, we have focused more on how we can use digital innovation, especially mobile technology to address market failures in the healthcare sector. We currently have four offices: Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, Tanzania. But we also somehow operate these as regional offices to oversee countries in the region where we don’t have permanent offices. What we do is look at using technology to address health market issues. So for example if it’s about insurance, we address the issue of how people can renew their insurance using basic mobile phones or if it’s about loans we address the issue of how doctors can apply for loans on their phones without having to go through the traditional banks to access finance. If it’s about quality of care , we look at how we can rate hospitals the same way we have it in the hospitality sector so you can check online to see ratings for the level of quality that you can expect in a hospital. Another example is one where we worked with the National Health Insurance Authority through data analytics to add family planning to the benefits package. These are examples of how we use technology to address challenges that empower patients.

What is your greatest achievement?

I am a gynaecologist at heart and have worked as one for years. I know that there are mothers who lost their lives, who would have lived if the right systems were in place. You can be the best surgeon but if you don't have the right systems and procedures, the operation will go wrong and the patient will still die.  You can build the flashiest hospital but if pregnant women who start bleeding have no blood for transfusion, they will still die.

So healthcare impact is really about how to change these system issues and that's what I love about PharmAccess.

We want to fix system issues in the healthcare sector. We work with our partners to make sure that the system failures which a patient is completely oblivious to are checked. We want to see many lives being saved due to these system checks. That's what I am proud of at PharmAccess.

According to WHO, in Africa, one out of three medicines is fake or substandard and so we are building a digital supply chain that connects trusted suppliers directly with pharmacies in clinics and hospitals to avoid the middle layers

that contaminate the process. I call it the Amazon of medicines. You can go online and order for medicines from a supplier like Ernest Chemist in Accra and receive quality medicines delivered in the Western Region.

We have started this with the Ministry of Health and a number of hospitals to make sure medicines are moved in a safe environment. That's an example of using technology to change the system.

How has your relationship been with GNBCC?

One of the key values that GNBCC brings to its members is the networking opportunities such as cocktails. It helps to foster and nurture relationships. These platforms allow for us to harness each other's offerings. Secondly, the New Business Challenge which gives people the opportunity to come and look over your shoulders, give you some new insights and new understanding into old meanings. It also provides the opportunity for businesses to interact with graduates and for them to do an internship. Thirdly, on the administrative side, we as PharmAccess have not used that but we know other members use the opportunity of GNBCC for consular services.


GNBCC | News