Nigeria is home to some remarkable growth stories in the private sector. Telecommunications, financial services and infrastructure have seen significant improvements over the past years. On 11th of April 2019, PharmAccess Foundation partnered with Nigeria Health Watch to host a conference “Disrupting Healthcare – PPPs as a model for Health Systems Strengthening” with over 200 participants attending.
The event brought together several stakeholders from management levels of public and private sector to participate in this policy dialogue. The intent was to explore the opportunities for private public partnerships to improve access and healthcare services anchored on mandatory State Health Insurance Schemes. Panelists shared their experiences and lessons learnt in executing PPPs from public and private sector perspectives.
The Nigerian health sector continues to be underfunded by the Government, leaving a large funding gap which can only be filled by the private sector, through public-private partnerships. Currently over 72% of medical bills are paid out-of-pocket. This highlights the urgency of health insurances, especially for the poor and vulnerable. Innovations by the private sector are critical to disrupt the healthcare system.
During the Dialogue, PharmAccess showcased a few of their public-private partnership models both at the primary and secondary levels of care through the Medical Credit Fund (MCF). The fund enabled improved access to finance for selected facilities in Nigeria. Many health facilities struggle with the high interest rates from regular financial institutions, making repayment difficult. The Medical Credit Fund, through its financial partners, enables low interest rates by providing partial guarantees and technical assistance to mitigate risks. Bundled with these loans is the SafeCare program, which provides the healthcare providers actionable insights to improve the quality of services within their facilities.
With the Access to Finance Framework in Delta State and Lagos State, run down nonfunctional government primary healthcare centers are being revitalized through a unique partnership between PharmAccess’ Medical Credit Fund, Bank of Industry and the State Governments. This partnership enables the provision of funding to selected private sector organizations to take over the nonfunctional facilities. To date 43 private healthcare centers in Lagos State and 25 in Delta State are undergoing phenomenal transformations. Access to care has started here under the management of the private sector.
Dr. Olamide Olamide, Director Advocacy and Communications at PharmAccess, also stressed the role of the government:
“To ensure that adequate domestic resources are allocated to the health sector, dedicated analytic, policy, and advocacy efforts are required. The government should be regulating and providing governance in healthcare and let the private sector use their expertise and competence to deliver healthcare.’’
The public-private partnership models of PharmAccess are promising examples of the journey towards Universal Health Care. When public funds are lacking, these partnerships are vital. The Policy Dialogue encourages parties to scale existing programs and explore new public-private cooperation.