IFC, Bill Gates to invest N9.42bn on priority healthcare for poor Nigerians

The investment will help boost the coverage of priority health technologies and intervention service for over one million poor Nigerians.

The International Finance Corporation, IFC, said on Tuesday that it is working with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the UK’s Department for International Development to invest about $60 million (about N9.42billion) to help boost the coverage of priority health technologies and intervention services that benefit over one million poor Nigerians.

The IFC, which is the private sector arm of the World Bank Group, said the five-year investment to be undertaken under the African Health Markets for Equity, AHME, project, would also involve other partners in Nigeria; namely Society for Family Health, Marie Stopes Nigeria, Grameen Foundation, Safe Care, Population Services International with Pharmaccess. IFC would provide the technical support.

AHME, which is already operating in Nigeria, Kenya and Ghana, would build on the best practices obtainable in the country. It will raise the scale and scope of franchised health care, from family planning and sexual and reproductive health to also address malaria, acute respiratory infections, diarrhea, nutrition, maternal care, HIV, and Tuberculosis.

Within Nigeria, it was gathered that the investment package is targeted at strengthening health care providers, namely hospitals, clinics and pharmacies, with over 60% of the health care in Nigeria currently being provided by private providers.

“There is a big health market in Nigeria that is untapped,” Lead Health Sector Specialist, World Bank, Khama Rogo, said. “Leveraging on this through private providers would improve access to the poor. Nigerians have health specialists all over the world. If these needed facilities are here, there is nothing stopping them from coming to be of service here.”

According to Mr. Rogo, the project was designed to positively impact the lives of Nigerians living below the poverty line in the rural areas by directly targeting the services to strengthen the health facilities within the social franchise networks; adding that over one million beneficiaries would over the next five years have the chance to overcome the barrier of being denied healthcare due to the high cost of such services at the point of health care delivery.

“There will also be infrastructural investments into health facilities to upgrade them and support staff strength and resources enabled by simultaneous and coordinated work in policy, ICT, quality improvement, demand‐side financing (innovative ways to address challenges with affording healthcare), and health care provider access to capital,” she said.

About 300 health facilities in the rural communities are expected to benefit from the services during the course of the programme, while the processes and skills imparted within these facilities would be transferred to other facilities within the social franchise network.

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