Fund to the rescue of ailing healthcare sector

Saturday January 5 2013

By Steve Mbogo

Medical Credit Fund (MCF), a $10.6 million fund will finance private healthcare projects in Kenya, Tanzania, Ghana and Nigeria, expanding funding opportunities in a sector that is rarely financed by commercial banks.

The fund was set up mid last December by the United States government, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Calvert Foundation, Deutsche Bank Americas Foundation and Soros Economic Development Fund under the advise of Total Impact Advisors LLC.

It is an initiative of PharmAccess, a Dutch not-for-profit organisation, dedicated to improving healthcare in Africa through innovative approaches.

The fund will target small- and mid-sized healthcare providers such as clinics, laboratories, doctors and midwives by providing them with capital to improve the quality of service delivered.

It will use internationally-certified clinical standards to gauge providers’ improvements and a technical assistance programme to ensure that funding is well-spent.

If successful in its initial implementation, the MCF will expand into additional countries in sub-Saharan Africa, on the strength of evidence that the private sector is already transforming the continent’s healthcare systems, said the fund in a statement.

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The private sector delivers 50 per cent of sub-Saharan Africa’s healthcare and 60 per cent of its financing, according to recent research by the International Finance Corporation.

“By using philanthropic capital to catalyse large amounts of funding from private and public sources that might otherwise stay on the sidelines because of perceived risks, the MCF is able to increase its developmental impact significantly,” noted the statement.

“Involving the private sector more fully in Africa’s healthcare is the best way to expand access to greater numbers of people — and that’s what the MCF has shown it can do,” said Elizabeth Littlefield, the President of Overseas Private Investment Corporation a US government agency that sells investment services to assist US companies investing in emerging markets.

Since the start of the programme in late 2012, the MCF has disbursed more than $1.4 million in small loans in Kenya, Tanzania, Ghana and Nigeria.

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