We bring together governments, private enterprises, and others to help the poor in innovative ways.
Outside the Hospital do Subúrbio in the Brazilian city of Salvador, all seems tranquil: white stucco buildings, manicured lawns, and palm trees swaying in the gentle breeze. Inside, it’s another story. The state-of-the-art hospital—which serves some of the city’s poorest neighborhoods—has conducted more than 1.8 million medical procedures since it opened three years ago. It also has created 1,200 jobs under a public-private partnership that IFC helped the government set up. Last year, the hospital was named one of the world’s 100 most innovative projects by KPMG, a consulting firm.
Hospital do Subúrbio’s success illustrates what can be achieved when government authorities join forces with the private sector to address a major development challenge. Brazil and other developing countries have achieved remarkable health advances in recent years. Yet significant obstacles remain. The benefits often don’t reach people who need them most—the poor.
The private sector is an essential part of the solution. In sub-Saharan Africa, where public resources remain scarce, the private sector provides about 60 percent of the financing available for healthcare. A poor woman with a sick child is just as likely to go to a private hospital or clinic as to a public facility.
In some of the world’s most challenging markets, IFC is helping bring together governments, the private sector, and civil society organizations to improve the quality of healthcare. Since we launched our Health in Africa Initiative in 2007, we have supported legal, regulatory, and institutional reforms to improve patient safety and the quality of private health services in eight countries.
Our advice led to the enactment of the Kenya Health Bill of 2012, which creates equal opportunity for public and private healthcare providers and is expected to result in expanded coverage for up to 20 million Kenyans. In South Sudan—where the maternal mortality rate is one of the world’s highest—our advice helped the government set up the Drug and Food Control Authority, which will help improve the quality of medicines available in the country.
We also see significant opportunity to improve the quality of healthcare in India’s low-income states. In the state of Meghalaya, where health insurance is limited, we helped the government arrange a public-private partnership that makes health insurance available to all 3 million of the state’s residents, regardless of income.