South Africa's Bertha Centre Identifies Active Ingredients in Primary Health Care

By Katusha de Villiers

The Bertha Centre for Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship of the University of Cape Town, Graduate School of Business, is the only academic center dedicated to social innovation within the African context. The Bertha Centre Health initiative is focused on the role of innovation in strengthening the health system and enabling the delivery of care to be more inclusive, affordable and effective to more Africans.

As the Southern Africa partner for the Center for Health Market Innovations, the Bertha Centre has embarked on developing a knowledge and action base for healthcare delivery innovations in South Africa and extending into Africa. This includes documenting innovations in healthcare delivery and building a network of diverse individuals and organizations across the private and public sector who are passionate about or working on innovations in healthcare delivery.

Through our onsite visits with programs based in South Africa, we have used the tool to gather information on the core components that are relevant for others, ranging from key stakeholders involved to the processes and systems in place.

In addition, the Bertha Center is applying the Adaptation Framework to identify successful low-cost private primary care models – suitable for adaptation from Kenya to South Africa. We have seen that Kenya demonstrates new approaches to improving access and delivery, increasing quality of care, reducing costs, and improving supply chain mechanisms – among other health innovations.

By focusing on the core components, or active ingredients, that contribute to a program’s success, we at the Bertha Centre has been able to better understand factors such as motivation, strategic impetus and ability to overcome barriers to success. This focus has allowed the center to group together organizations that have a common active ingredient, such as empowering local community members to be change agents, and then extrapolate that to new contexts.

Photo: Unjani Clinic's Kwaggafontein Clinic