Access to Health Pitch Competition
Health systems gaps in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) reduce access to treatments for non-communicable diseases (NCDs). Among the many consequences is the fact that NCDs such as cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and cancer are the number one killer in Southeast Asia, claiming an estimated 8.5 million lives every year.
Many of these deaths could be prevented with stronger health systems. Innovations in areas such as digital health have the potential to address health systems gaps and thus, not only prevent NCD deaths, but also improve the quality of life of millions of people in the region.
As part of our commitment to meet the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, our global health team aims to address the healthcare challenges in LMICs. For this, we are continuously looking for and supporting curious minds with great ideas that can create success and improve the lives of people. This is why, with our shared value approach, we aim to support innovative and sustainable business models that can make our health solutions more accessible to patients in those countries.
Our Access to Health Pitch Competition
In 2021, we launched the Access to Health Pitch Competition to find and accelerate solutions that address health systems gaps in LMICs. Our partnership with TechShake was launched to identify and support start-ups in Indonesia, Vietnam and the Philippines that develop innovative solutions for access to health.
Curiosity drives our company to discover new things, to achieve new scientific insights and breakthroughs to create, prolong and improve lives of patients. I am proud to be part of this project which aim to expand the access to healthcare within the Asia-Pacific region so we can help more patients and deliver our purpose.
We received almost 50 start-up applications in total from the three countries. Together with country teams at Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany and their local partners, we evaluated the start-ups and selected twelve finalists for a two-week boot camp to refine their pitches.
At the pitch event, the selection panel of global health and business experts chose one main winner to receive a $20,000 prize, and three runners-up that received a prize of $5,000 each.
Medhyve – Philippines
In the Philippines, hospitals and clinics in the provinces lose a significant amount of their medical procurement costs to inefficient and unclear procurement processes. In many cases, doctors find it hard to navigate procurement, and this often leads to a manual and time-consuming processes that may causes delays.
Medhyve aims to make medical procurement easier for provincial medical institutions through a medical marketplace fitted with procurement tools and dashboards. The goal is that by making medical supplies cheaper for hospitals in rural areas, this initiative can make healthcare more accessible to all patients.
Semudah Health – Indonesia
Diabetes is a high burden disease in Indonesia – difficult to be managed and critical for its socio-economic impact.
To improve the convenience and the monitoring of this disease in Indonesia, Semudah Health aims to provide innovative solution for the affected patients. The initiative will build up on the development of a non-invasive glucose meter, that can measure blood glucose without using needles or blood samples. It will also leverage from a dedicated smartphone app that patients can use to store and monitor their historic glucose levels and to receive recommendations for their health.
ISOFHCare – Vietnam
Patients’ and their families often find it difficult to navigate around the different aspects of health care and management.
To overcome this, ISOFHCARE is operating in Vietnam digital health industry by creating a specialized e-commerce platform for healthcare, aiming to make patients’ journeys easier. This initiative will leverage from the ISOFHCARE’s platform that provides appointment booking, telemedicine, e-health records and a community to help patients connect effortlessly, and that, through a healthcare marketplace, connects hospitals, clinics and laboratories.
Alaga Health – Philippines
Equitable access to quality health care has been difficult for a lot of Filipinos.
Alaga Health enables patients in the Philippines to buy health products and book health services (clinical appointments, laboratory tests, home care) given by small businesses, NGOs and government healthcare providers through one platform that uses mobile and web applications.
The prizes from the Access to Health Pitch Competition will support the development of transformative solutions. Our close interactions with the winners aim also to leverage expertise and their transformative ways of addressing health systems gaps in LMICs.
Who are our champions?
Juan Gutierrez is responsible for Shared Value projects in the Access to Health team at Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany. Shared Value projects aim to strengthen health systems in LMICs and, by doing so, more patients will be able to access health solutions while ensuring a sustainable business return for the company. Juan is passionate about contributing to Global Health by applying his expertise in NCD prevention through behavioural change.
Chrys Herrera leads the Access to Health team in Global Health, which is responsible for using the shared value approach to increase access to health solutions in low- and middle-income countries. He joined Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany in 2015 and has moved across medical and government affairs roles for country, regional, and global assignments. Prior to that, Chrys worked for the UPecon - Health Policy Development Program, a USAID project supporting the implementation of universal health care in the Philippines.