SHE WILL REPRESENT AFRICA

Kenyan doctor receives top entrepreneurship scholarship

Diana Wangari had hoped to specialise in a clinical field, but she discovered the scope of healthcare was vast.

In Summary

•The scholarship, awarded to only five entrepreneurs across the globe, will see Diana represent the African continent, perhaps signifying the shift in the region toward more entrepreneurial activities.

•Quality healthcare is not a chance event. It requires proper governance, ownership and establishment of a functional health system.

Dr Diana Wangari is the CEO and co-founder of Checkups Medical Centre based in Nairobi, Kenya.
Dr Diana Wangari is the CEO and co-founder of Checkups Medical Centre based in Nairobi, Kenya.

In sub-Saharan Africa, there are few doctors involved in healthcare management. There are fewer doctors who are social entrepreneurs.

There are even fewer female doctors involved in social entrepreneurship and Dr Diana Esther Wangari is one of them- a doctor and a social healthcare entrepreneur. She is the CEO and co-founder of Checkups Medical Centre based in Nairobi, Kenya.

For her work, Diana was recently announced awarded the prestigious Skoll Entrepreneurship Scholarship into Oxford University in the UK.

 

The Skoll Scholarship provides funding for entrepreneurs who have set up or have been working in entrepreneurial initiatives with a social purpose or who have pursued an impact career, and who wish to improve their knowledge of market-oriented practices so they can be more effective in their subsequent social change pursuits.

The scholarship, awarded to only five entrepreneurs across the globe, will see Diana represent the African continent, perhaps signifying the shift in the region toward more entrepreneurial activities.

The Skoll Foundation, whose mission is to drive large-­scale change by investing in, connecting, and celebrating social entrepreneurs and the innovators who help them solve the world’s most pressing problems believes that social entrepreneurs are society’s change agents—creators of innovations that disrupt the status quo and transform our world for the better.

By identifying the people and programs already enacting positive change throughout the world, the Skoll Foundation is able to empower them to extend their reach, deepen their impact, and fundamentally improve society.

Like many bright-eyed medical students, Diana joined medical school with the hopes of specialising in a clinical field.

But instead, as she was introduced to the health care system, she found the scope of healthcare was vast. She thus ventured into health communication, in the hopes that she could bridge the gap that seemed to exist between the system –doctors, policy makers, administrators, and consumers – the patient, the community. In this role, she previously served as a columnist for The Standard and The Star newspapers in Kenya.

“I quickly learned that communication was a tool. The fundamental flaw in my view is that healthcare has been viewed merely as an option of government expenditure. Healthcare has not been understood to be a public good with the same primary significance as good laws, good roads and public security. In my view, public health care is more important and even more fundamental than free education,” Diana said.

 

This inspired the opening of Checkups Medical Centre, a network of rapid outpatient medical facilities offering managed care services. Checkups Medical centres utilise its in-house developed technology, iSikCure, to provide access to rapid diagnostics, consultation and last mile drug distribution through its concierge drug delivery services in both urban and rural areas.

“I think entrepreneurship is becoming a generational calling. Increasingly, health professionals are increasingly taking charge. If we are to achieve Universal Health Coverage, it calls for a fundamental change in our commitment to lead and take risk,” said Diana.

These sentiments were echoed by Dr Simon Kigondu, secretary general of the Kenya Medical Association.

"Quality healthcare is not a chance event. It requires proper governance, ownership and establishment of a functional health system. Most important is the development and training of the Health Workforce. Therefore, seeing my colleagues empowered to take charge is a step in the right direction,” he said.

Dr Diana was also awarded Forbes 30 under 30 Africa.