International Finance Corporation (IFC), a branch of the World Bank Group, has launched partnerships with the Co-operative Bank of Kenya and the leading health technology company Philips to help smaller businesses in Africa’s health sector to buy vital medical equipment and enhance their response to Covid-19 and other persistent healthcare challenges.
The partnerships are the first, under the IFC-led Africa Medical Equipment Facility, meant to provide risk-sharing facilities to assist small businesses to access up to Sh32 billion in loans and contracts.
Through the facility, IFC is working with medical equipment manufacturers and local banks to support healthcare providers in Kenya, Rwanda, Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Tanzania, Uganda, and Senegal.
The loan size to smaller healthcare providers, which reach more than half the population of Africa (including low-income patients), is designed to range from Sh534,050 to Sh213,000,000 to assist them lease or purchase equipment.
Currently, most of the smaller healthcare operators in Africa are not able to secure bank loans because of their perceived high investment risks, meaning they can’t afford medical equipment and recruit qualified personnel or renovations.
“Many smaller healthcare businesses in Africa lack the equipment they need to respond to Covid-19 and deliver other vital services,” said IFC’s Director, Makhtar Diop.
According to Diop, unlocking access to finance can save lives now and will, in the long term, strengthen healthcare systems across Africa.
The facility falls under IFC’s Global Health Platform, started to aid developing countries to fight the Covid-19 pandemic and increase their healthcare systems’ resilience, supported by the International Development Association Private Sector Window (IDA-PSW), Children and Adolescents (GFF), and the Blended Finance Facility and the Global Financing Facility for Women.
Health Systems Leader Philips Africa, Winfred Jansen, said that inability to access to cheaper quality healthcare is one of the most pressing issues in the continent.
Philips aims to substantially contribute to improving healthcare in Africa through innovative solutions that are tailored to local needs.
IFC hopes to expand the Africa Medical Equipment Facility to more countries and invites interested financial institutions and equipment manufacturers to reach IFC to explore partnerships.