Through Public-Private Partnerships, Africa Can Transform Health Systems

11 May 2016

Oliver Cann, Public Engagement, Tel.: +41 (0)79 799 3405; Email:

· New World Economic Forum report reveals how developing nations can leapfrog health programmes and reach OECD standards

· Projects in Nigeria and Kenya show the most promising results in implementing public-private partnerships

· Merck, Sharp & Dohme (MSD) today announces a $1.5 million investment in a Kenyan health initiative

· To read the full report, click here

Kigali, Rwanda, 11 May 2016 – African and other developing nations can close the healthcare gap in their countries and reach OECD standards within years rather than decades through innovative public-private partnerships, a new report released by the World Economic Forum today shows.

For example, according to the report, Health Systems: Leapfrogging in Emerging Economies, at current rates it would take Nigeria 300 years to achieve OECD levels of doctor access. However, case studies highlighted in the report reveal that programmes in Africa, particularly in Nigeria and Kenya, can reverse the trend.

Nigeria’s south-western Ogun State has developed an innovative insurance scheme, which aims to provide healthcare coverage to more than 100,000 people by 2018, most of them women and children, and improve eHealth, sourcing of medical products, upgrading primary care technologies and other health services. Known as the Araya scheme, it is financed by the Ogun State government, and supported by the World Bank, the AHME consortium of private companies and NGOs such as PharmAccess and the World Economic Forum.

In six counties in Kenya, the 6 County initiative – spearheaded by the United Nation Population Fund (UNFPA) has partnered with the private sector to improve reproductive, maternal, newborn, child and adolescent health. As part of the private sector engagement, a cost-effective community life centre, which focuses on primary care, has been set up. The UNFPA-led initiative will also become a platform for additional projects, including telemedicine solutions, family planning activities and training. The initiative is supported by Safaricom, Huawei, Philips, GSK and Merck, Sharp & Dohme (MSD).

MSD, through the MSD for Mothers initiative, will invest $1.5 million in the 6 County initiative, which supports the north-eastern counties of Mandera and Migori in particular. The funds will be directed to JHPIEGO – an international non-profit health organization affiliated with Johns Hopkins University in the US – and the Kenya Red Cross (KRC) to explore and document innovative approaches to Adolescent and Youth Sexual and Reproductive Health (AYSRH) service delivery, and inform the national roll-out of Kenya’s AYSRH policy. The MSD-funded project will seek innovative partnerships with businesses including the Philips Community Life Centre in Mandera.

“For decades, public-private partnerships in healthcare relied on task outsourcing to some private players, an outdated approach which does not fit the requirements for a real transformation of health systems,” said Arnaud Bernaert, Head of Global Health and Healthcare Industries at the World Economic Forum. “Using the ecosystem approach from the Araya and 6 County initiatives in Nigeria and Kenya instead could allow countries to leapfrog their health systems and make innovative transformations a reality.”

Based on the findings, the World Economic Forum recommends replicating best practices highlighted in the report in the healthcare programmes of other countries. The results of the study, developed in collaboration with The Boston Consulting Group, were announced at the World Economic Forum on Africa, which is taking place in Kigali, Rwanda, from 11 to 13 May 2016. The theme of the meeting is “Connecting Africa’s Resources through Digital Transformation”.

Notes to Editors

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All opinions expressed are those of the author. The World Economic Forum Blog is an independent and neutral platform dedicated to generating debate around the key topics that shape global, regional and industry agendas.

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