By Chioma Obinna
With Africa needing over US$30 billion to close the infrastructure deficit and in the light of dwindling Government expenditure on Healthcare, experts say it has become imperative that the private sector gets involved in closing these gaps.
Meanwhile, a Medical Credit Fund Nigeria has been introduced by PharmAcess Foundation to ensure quick access to bank loans by health professionals and owners of health businesses.
The experts who spoke in Lagos also lamented poor health financing in the country, adding that high out -of -pocket payments have marred health care delivery service in Nigeria and amounts to 90 percent in West Africa.
In his lecture entitled, “Healthcare Financing in Nigeria: Prospects and Challenges”, a Health Financial Specialist, Health in Africa Initiative International Finance Corporation, World Bank Group, Dr. Olamide Okulaja noted that Sub-Saharan Africa accounts for 11 percent of the world’s population, yet bears 24 percent of the global disease burden and commands less than one percent of global health expenditure.
Quoting a figure from McKinsey & Company, Okulaja said available estimates show that over the next decade, $25–$30 billion in new investment will be needed in health care assets, including hospitals, clinics, and distribution warehouses, to meet the growing health care demands of Sub-Saharan Africa.
Okulaja who spoke at a function by PharmAccess Foundation and partners to strengthen healthcare businesses regretted that of total health expenditure of $16.7 billion in 2005, roughly 60 percent in Africa, were predominantly out-of-pocket payments by individuals.
Noting that health systems in Africa are caught in a vicious circle between lack of demand and supply, he stressed the need to focus on creating virtuous circle towards system transformation through Public Private Partnerships, PPPs.
“Leveraging the efficiency of the private sector will improve supply chain management of much needed healthcare commodities. Private sector investments in local regional manufacturing of Healthcare commodities can ultimately lead to reduced stock outs and costs. This will also lead to increased employment opportunities in Healthcare,” he affirmed.
Lamenting attitude of health practitioners and health business owners towards Bank loans, Country Director for PharmAccess Foundation, Mrs. Njide Ndili disclosed that a Medical Credit Fund, MCF, has been introduced by PharmAccess Foundation to ensure quick access to Bank loans by health professionals and owners of health businesses.
Ndili explained that the workshop was organised to introduce and showcase the Medical Credit Fund established by PharmAccess, for onward lend financing to healthcare.
“We are also building capacity of healthcare owners, medical practitioners who may be interested in borrowing money or who need money to expand their businesses or facilities.
“The workshop would provide them an opportunity to be better equipped and have enough information to get resources to expand quality improvement initiative within their facilities.”
Ndili explained that under the scheme, the practitioners would be given a special rate by their Bank partners unlike what they would have gotten in the commercial setting.
She disclosed that under the scheme, they have been able to give out over 16 million dollar loans in Africa, adding that, the repayment rate is put at 96 percent.
She said healthcare financing in Nigeria is still at its minimal level, adding that a lot of Banks have wrong impression about healthcare business and they are unable to give loans to them.