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Wednesday 25 August 2021 Last update on Wednesday, August 25, 2021 At 3:00 PM

Focus on the first TNS/ FEMISE Policy Brief, entitled “Digital health start-ups, an opportunity to support the transformation of health systems in the Southern Mediterranean”, by Ahcène Zehnati, Research Director at the Centre de Recherche en Economie Appliquée pour le Développement (CREAD, Algeria). In the video the author and entrepreneurs share their experience, highlight their challenges and provide recommendations.

Micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) constitute about 95% of the total number of enterprises in the Southern Mediterranean region and are considered to be the driving forces behind economic growth, job creation and green and inclusive growth. 

Entrepreneurs, especially start-ups, still face many challenges when it comes to creating, promoting and managing their businesses. Supporting these entrepreneurs through innovative initiatives and enhancing the ecosystems in which they operate will contribute to their development. 

In turn, entrepreneurs will contribute to the achievement of several Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It is in this context that the Next Society Project (TNS) and FEMISE have decided to produce “The Next Society Policy Briefs Series”. The aim is to better understand the challenges faced by entrepreneurs (through the prism of entrepreneurs themselves) and to provide tailored operational policy recommendations.

The pandemic has exacerbated the fragility of health systems in the Southern Mediterranean

Health systems in the Southern Mediterranean region were in systemic crisis long before the advent of Covid-19. However, this pandemic has exacerbated the fragility and revealed the lack of preparedness of these health systems to deal with health emergencies. 

For several decades, these countries have been grappling with a continuing health transition, characterised by the increasing impact of non-communicable diseases on the burden of disease and causes of mortality. 

In the future, these countries will face further challenges, particularly with the ageing of the population. This highlights the need for them to deploy new technological solutions to secure their health systems and meet the growing expectations of their populations.

Covid 19 as a source of innovation in the health sector

The Covid-19 epidemic has given a strong and timely impetus to innovation and implementation of technological solutions in the health sector and, as such, has highlighted the significant growth potential of digital health in the South Med region.

The objective of this policy brief is to address the issue of entrepreneurship and innovation in the field of digital health in the countries of the South-Med region. After giving an overview of the situation of the health systems in the selected countries, the brief examines contextual elements related to the business climate, barriers to investment and ecosystems built to foster start-ups. 

The success stories of five start-ups from Algeria, Lebanon and Tunisia are then highlighted. 

What are the motivations that led the entrepreneurs to create their start-ups, the contribution of their innovations to their countries’ health systems, the challenges they faced and the role of their experiences in the success of their entrepreneurial projects?

The author then concludes with some recommendations to bridge the digital divide and facilitate the creation of e-health start-ups in the region. The ultimate goal is to strengthen the capacity of health systems to respond to the needs of the population.

To read the full policy brief

”This policy brief has been produced with the financial support of the European Union. The contents of this brief are the sole responsibility of the authors and can under no circumstances be regarded as reflecting the position of the European Union.”

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