IFC Promotes Best Practices in Private Health Care

Washington, D.C., May 10, 2007IFC is the world's largest multilateral investor in the private health sector in emerging markets as well as a key advisor of companies that support the growth of sustainable private health care, particularly those who are pioneers in new markets. Our goal is to increase access to health services for people at all income levels, improve quality and efficiency in health care, encourage the international exchange of best practices, help retain health professionals in developing countries, and support collaboration between public and private health sectors.

Creating Opportunities for Sharing

Last month, IFC provided a forum for sharing best practices in health care at an international conference, "Private Health Care in Emerging Markets—Evolution or Revolution?" Held in Washington, D.C., the conference brought together more than 100 participants from over 20 countries to discuss changes in the health sector, business prospects, and ways that companies could benefit from shared experiences and best practices.

Panel discussions and presentations by leading analysts and operators provided information for decision-makers on competing in the global marketplace. Major themes included innovative models, franchising, health cooperatives, insurance, and traveling overseas for medical treatment with special focus on the experiences of companies from Brazil, China, India, Kenya, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Thailand, Turkey, and the United Arab Emirates.

Thunell in discussions with participants.Opening the conference, Lars Thunell, head of IFC, said, "Nowhere is the need for private sector financing felt more keenly than in the emerging markets, where demand is presenting opportunities both for local providers and multinationals." He noted that the title of the conference reflects the remarkable developments and trends underway in private health care in emerging markets.

Competing in the Global Marketplace

A good example of a global competitor in the health care industry is Netcare, the largest private sector hospital company in South Africa, which now serves both public and private patients in the United Kingdom.

Nigerian doctors and nurses are also traveling to India for further training. Fola Laoye, CEO of Hygeia Nigeria, who made a presentation on pioneering health care in West Africa, said, "The combination of demand-driven health insurance schemes, more government expenditures on health, and an increase in donor support would create opportunities for improved supply of health care facilities and health care management systems."

Health care worker attending to patient.In India, health care is expected to be a $2.4 billion industry by 2012, with patients from all over the world traveling to the country for surgeries. Another emerging trend is interregional collaboration, with health care companies, such as Apollo Hospitals, offering medical training and advice to Hygeia's Lagoon Hospitals in Nigeria.

In Thailand, Bumrungrad Hospital is contracting with health care insurers in the United States to send patients for elective procedures. "Thailand is a leading destination for patients who travel for medical treatment," said Curtis J. Schroeder, Group CEO, Bumrungrad. Nearly half a million foreign patients were treated by Bumrungrad Hospital last year, more than any health care company in the world. Bumrungrad operates the Asian International Hospital, an IFC client.

Investments in Saudi German Hospitals in Egypt and Yemen will help raise medical care standards in both countries. "A belief in the need for interregional investment and an interest in bringing better medical services to underdeveloped markets in the region drove Saudi German Hospitals Group," said its president, Sobhi A. Batterjee. The company, a major participant in Saudi Arabia's health sector since 1988, owns and operates five hospitals in the country.

"The need for better access to health care is acute in Turkey," according to Pinar Lembet, deputy hospital director of Turkey's Acibadem Healthcare Group, who addressed the conference on the needs of international health care investors. Lembet disclosed that Acibadem now ranks among Turkey's top 500 companies with strong brand recognition.

Health care provider with patient.Guy Ellena, IFC Health and Education Director, who chaired the conference, acknowledged the trend for private health care to cross national borders and the strong interest in partnering with regional players in Brazil, India, Mexico, Turkey, and the Middle East. He concluded that IFC's biannual health conference had become a landmark event for the industry and a unique opportunity for senior executives to share experiences and best practices.

Increasing Access to Health Services

From 2000 to 2006, IFC provided $350 million in financing to 39 private health sector projects, with a total value of $1.3 billion in 22 countries around the world. We also mobilized an additional $70 million from participating banks for our health sector investments.

In Africa, IFC provided a $3 million equivalent loan earlier this year to support the upgrade of two of Hygeia's hospitals in Nigeria and the reconstruction of a third hospital to increase Hygeia's overall capacity and expand information technology infrastructure to its health maintenance organization.

Child receiving treatment at a United Family Hospitals Facility.In East Asia, IFC provided about $8 million to the Aier Eye Hospital Group in China in 2006, to help expand their eye care services to cities across the country, especially in regions where none previously existed.

We also provided an $8 million equivalent local currency loan to expand China's United Family Hospitals, a leading hospital group. The funds were used for medical equipment and facility upgrades at Shanghai hospital and at an out-patient clinic, both in Beijing. The group also undertook a medical training program to teach the latest in international-standard patient care to nurses from both the public and private sectors. IFC organized donor funds to help develop the nursing program. Both projects cooperated with the public sector to raise health care standards to benefit China's poorest people.

In the Europe and Central Asia region, IFC lent the equivalent of $40 million to Acibadem, which operates a network of hospitals and ambulatory care facilities in Istanbul, to help it construct three new full-service general hospitals in Izmir and Istanbul. The 2006 loan, IFC's second investment in the company, enabled Acibadem to expand in Istanbul and into smaller cities. Acibadem currently cares for over 50,000 inpatients and sees more than a million outpatients a year.

Earlier this year in the Middle East, IFC committed to provide the Saudi German Hospitals Group with $37 million to support a 300-bed hospital in Sana'a, Yemen, which opened in June 2006. Part of the amount will be used to build a similar hospital in Cairo, Egypt.


IFC in Health Care
  • IFC-supported health care facilities employ about 30,000 people in developing countries and treat 5 million patients annually.
  • Five IFC clients have achieved international quality accreditation, such as Joint Commission International, and others are in the process of doing so.
  • IFC offers its clients all the financial products available from a commercial bank, including long-term financing.
  • IFC sponsors events, such as a biannual health care conference in Washington, D.C. as well as regional and country-specific forums in developing countries.
  • IFC has a team of specialists dedicated to investment in the private health sector.
  • IFC is uniquely positioned to mobilize donor financing to provide advisory services to clients.
  • IFC understands and is committed to the future growth of private health care in developing countries.

IFC provides project and corporate financing through a variety of financial instruments, including loans, guarantees, and equity investments. We also provide advisory services to support individual clients.

For additional information contact:

Ludi Joseph
Senior Communications Officer
Health and Education Department

Phone: (202) 473-7700