Accra-based meditech startup mPharma has signed a franchise agreement with Belayab Pharmaceuticals PLC to increase patient access to affordable and quality medications in Ethiopia, through its subsidiary, Haltons Limited.

Through this agreement, mPharma will leverage its technology platforms, insights, and extensive experience working with hospitals and retail pharmacies across Africa to help Ethiopia achieve universal medical coverage to all its patients.

Through the franchise, mPharma and Belayab Pharmaceuticals aim to open two operational pharmacies in Addis Ababa this year.

Gregory Rockson, CEO mPharma, said mPharma will be connecting and empowering an inclusive universal medical coverage that benefits everyone in Africa by making access to healthcare affordable and safe.

Headquartered in Accra, Ghana, mPharma, a technology-driven healthcare company acquired Kenya’s second-largest pharmacy chain, Haltons, in 2019, taking control of 27 stores across Kenya.

“We are excited to be entering the Ethiopian market in partnership with Belayab Pharmaceuticals as we continue to build our long-standing commitment to partnerships for the good health of patients. This is an opportunity to develop a commercially-sustainable and scalable health impact in Ethiopia by improving access to quality essential medicines that will help the society-at-large so that everyone can benefit from affordable and safe treatment.”

Currently operational in Ghana, Nigeria, Zambia, Rwanda, and Kenya, mPharma serves about a million patients every year through over 300 partner pharmacies and provides patients with affordable and high-quality medicines in its quest to build an Africa that is in good health.

In Africa, the pharmaceutical market faces challenges such as sprawling supply chains, low order volumes, and exorbitant prices.

Millions of Africans continue to die from diseases such as malaria, tuberculosis, and Hepatitis B; these diseases can be prevented or treated with timely access to appropriate and affordable medicines and other health services.

With less than 2% of drugs consumed in Africa being produced on the continent[i], many sick patients cannot afford to buy the medications they need for treatment. mPharma has been working with drug manufacturers and suppliers to make medicine supply chains more efficient, thereby reducing the financial burden to patients.

Under this partnership, each pharmacy launched will offer Mutti – mPharma’s health membership program – to patients in Ethiopia.

Patients will benefit from discounts on their drugs and financing options that can help alleviate the costs of healthcare. Mutti will particularly benefit uninsured patients in Ethiopia who pay out-of-pocket for their medication and therefore bear the brunt of high drug prices.

“The entrance of Haltons Pharmacy will give patients a larger selection and convenience in Ethiopia through a consistent list of options at each location. Pharmacies in Ethiopia are largely driven by family businesses and there is a lack of consistent availability of products throughout the country. Haltons will be a crucial driver to help deliver critical drugs and products to patients throughout the country, including underserved areas.” said Michael Ghebru, Shareholder, Belayab Pharmaceuticals.

In his remarks, Belayab Pharmaceuticals Managing Director & Shareholder Robel Minassie said Ethiopia’s healthcare needs are growing in volume and complexity by the day.

“It is therefore critical to craft strong partnerships that move us closer to providing quality and broad healthcare coverage for the country. We are proud to be partnering with mPharma through their Haltons subsidiary to achieve improved healthcare in the country.”

The partnership highlights the strong commitment of both organizations to ensuring that medicines of all kinds are made accessible and affordable for all Ethiopians.