Thanks to an innovative public private partnership facilitated by IFC, the mountain kingdom of Lesotho has transformed its health care system with the opening of a newly-built, 425-bed hospital that will help the tiny country treat tens of thousands of patients a year, bring down maternal mortality rates, and contain the spread of HIV.
Lesotho’s King Letsie III recently inaugurated the Queen 'Mamohato Memorial Hospital in the country’s capital, Maseru. The world-class facility, the centerpiece of a new health system that includes three new filter clinics, replaces Maseru’s dilapidated Queen Elizabeth II hospital, where infrastructure and services were hopelessly inadequate.
The new public hospital features eight operating rooms, a maternity wing including a 40-bed nursery, a 10-bed adult Intensive Care Unit, an opthomology unit and, most importantly, a well-trained, privately-managed cadre of health care professionals.
“There will be a large focus on training at this new facility because of the more modern technology, but also because of the role that this hospital will play in the larger health care infrastructure within Lesotho,” said Karen Prins, Operations Director for the new hospital.
Public Private Partnership
The new hospital is part of a wider health care network Lesotho has developed with support from the World Bank Group. The World Bank provided Lesotho with a $6.25 million grant from the Global Partnership for Output-based Aid and IFC advised Lesotho’s government on its partnership with the Tsepong consortium, led by South African health care investment holding company NETCARE.
Under the partnership, Lesotho’s government contracted Tsepong to build, manage and operate the new public hospital without increasing costs to patients. The landmark deal might serve as a model for aging and overburdened health care systems across Africa.
“We looked at what the government was paying [to run health services], and what we were receiving,” said Lesotho’s Finance Minister, Timothy Thahane. “We then went to the private sector and asked, what quality can we get for that amount? They showed us that they could deliver a range of specialized services…and that would happen without changing the cost to the beneficiary.”
The real potential of the Lesotho project becomes apparent if it could be scaled up across populous countries such as Nigeria, where there could conceivably be scope for 20 or more such hospitals.
“The Lesotho Hospital Public Private Partnership is an ambitious project which is delivering affordable healthcare, is attractive to strong private investors, and expands services to more people,” said Catherine O’Farrell, a Senior Investment Officer in IFC’s Infrastructure Advisory Services Department. “Health systems across Africa struggling with growing populations could benefit from similar partnerships.”
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