April 18, 2008 — IFC’s recently released report, “The Business of Health in Africa” finds that the private sector is sometimes the only provider of medical services for the region’s poor and makes recommendations to further promote private sector-backed medical care. To build on these strategies, IFC and the World Bank are holding a series of forums on how to improve health care in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Guy Ellena, Director for Health and Education, said, “This is an excellent opportunity for IFC and the World Bank to hear from health operators, investors, and other stakeholders about the kinds of issues they face and what we can do to help increase development impact and our ability to reach the poor.”
The forums, which will be held from April 14 through May 5 throughout Africa, will help build support for IFC’s health strategy from a broad range of stakeholders, bringing together lenders and experts to discuss business opportunities and regulatory barriers. Participants will work to build on report findings, which note that the private sector must work with the public sector to expand access to services for the poorest people and reduce the financial burdens on governments.
According to the report, African health expenditure will keep growing rapidly, with the private sector playing a key role. A poor woman in Africa today is as likely to take her sick child to a private hospital or clinic as to a public facility. The private sector, in fact, is sometimes the only option for health care in rural regions and poor urban slums. Private providers (for-profit and not-for-profit) serve all income levels and have broad geographic reach.
Impediments to Africa’s health sector include limited access to capital, burdensome regulations, shortages of skilled workers, and a lack of risk-pooling mechanisms that can mobilize revenue for providers.
The forums will allow representatives from both the private and public health sectors tackle these challenges. Panel discussions will be followed by sessions on financing, operations, and regulatory issues of service provision, risk pooling, medical education, life sciences manufacturing, distribution, and retail. IFC, the World Bank, the African Development Bank, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation will chair the panels.
Representatives from development finance institutions, aid agencies, commercial banks, civil society, and the media will be part of the audience.
The forums will be held in:
Yaoundé, Cameroon (Monday, April 14, 2008)
Dakar, Senegal (Thursday, April 17, 2008)
Lagos, Nigeria (Monday, April 28, 2008)
Johannesburg, South Africa (Wednesday, April 30, 2008)
Dar es Salaam, Tanzania (Monday, May 5, 2008)
For copies of The Business of Health in Africa: Partnering with the Private Sector to Improve People’s Lives and information on IFC’s strategy for the sector, click here.
Health and Education Department, IFC