New Solutions To Health Crisis

Contrary to popular opinion, Africa’s poorest seek out private health services more often than public health services. The private sector is already central to health care delivery in the region. Now the international community must make it a larger part of its work to use the private sector to find solutions to Africa’s health care crisis.

The issue could hardly be more urgent. Almost half of the world's deaths of children under age five still occur in Africa. The region has the world's highest maternal mortality, while HIV/AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis continue to undermine the hope and vitality of its people.

Local governments have made some strides—in some cases, with aid, advice, and development assistance—but progress remains slow. Sub-Saharan Africa is not on track to meet the three Millennium Development Goals related to health—child mortality, maternal health, and disease.

Increasingly, there is recognition that the private sector must play a key role to improve health and achieve targets. But models that allow private health providers to reach the scale needed are only starting to be acknowledged.

IFC, the world's leading private sector development organization, and the Gates Foundation, the foremost health-focused philanthropic organization, are joining forces to develop a new, highly targeted, and commercially-based approach to private health care in Africa.

The two institutions are spending $3.5 million to conduct research to help determine the kinds of business models that provide the best service to people at different income levels. This effort will also determine the kinds of financial products commercial financers, including IFC, should be offering to support private sector involvement in these services.

The research will be used to create an environment for change by bringing together leading experts, including financiers, insurers, donors, policymakers, regulators, and operators. The effort will explore ways that financing and provision of private health services in Africa can be improved, especially to increase access for the poor. Through this partnership with the Gates Foundation, IFC expects to raise understanding of the value of the private sector in the African health care market and help put in place measures that will enable it to grow.

For more information contact:

Ludwina Joseph

Senior Communications Officer
Washington, DC
+1 202 473 7700