Group Offers $30m Healthcare Loan to Nigeria, Others
By Adedapo Adesanya
An opportunity has opened for private and Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) health providers in Nigeria to access credit facility to expand their operations.
The loan, created through the Open Doors African Private Healthcare Initiative, is worth $30 million and it is for healthcare providers in Nigeria and four other high malaria burden African countries.
It will specifically support healthcare providers in Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda to continue offering essential health services, including malaria treatments, to more than five million Africans, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The facility was created by the Health Finance Coalition, a group of leading philanthropies, investors, donors and technical partners focused on mobilising significant private investment to achieve transformative healthcare impact in Africa.
“Private sector healthcare providers deliver nearly 50 per cent of all healthcare in sub-Saharan Africa, including life-saving interventions such as early malaria diagnosis and treatment, ante-natal care and routine vaccinations.
“If left unaddressed, these vital health needs could overwhelm already overburdened health systems and add to the loss of life during the pandemic.
“Projections in 2020, for example, estimated that moderate disruptions in treatment-seeking could lead to as many as 100,000 additional malaria deaths in sub-Saharan Africa.
“As countries have shut down sectors of their economies and asked citizens to remain at home to slow the spread of COVID-19, all health providers have seen a decrease in demand for services.
“For private healthcare providers, this also means decreased revenues, putting them at risk of closing during a time when access to care is already a challenge,” a statement by the Global Health Strategies said on Monday.
According to the statement, of the five million patients that the loan facility can impact, almost three million are low-income patients, and approximately 2.4 million are women and 1.4 million are children, who are disproportionately at risk of malaria and other infectious diseases.
“The loan facility will be managed by Malaria No More and loans will be administered through the Medical Credit Fund (MCF), a non-profit health investment fund.
“Loans are expected to average $17,000 per provider to help stabilise operations, buy essential medical equipment, including personal protective equipment, and finance small-scale construction to protect patients from COVID-19 infection.
“MCF’s partner organisation, SafeCare, in collaboration with PMI, will provide training materials to facilities on how to continue providing routine services safely during the pandemic,” it said.
Mr Martin Edlund, CEO of Malaria No More, said: “This facility is one of the first solutions of its kind to address the twin health and economic crises facing the private health sector in Africa due to COVID-19.
“We hope it will spark a broader response using creative finance solutions to save lives from malaria and address Africa’s most urgent health needs,” he is quoted as saying.
According to Mr Ray Chambers, WHO Ambassador for Global Strategy and Health Financing and Chair, the MCJ Amelior Foundation said: “With COVID-19 putting tremendous financial pressure on health budgets across Africa.
“We need creative financing solutions to help governments achieve their ambitious health goals.
“The Open Doors African Private Healthcare Initiative, which supports private health providers through a blend of grants and return-seeking capital, is a leading example. I hope to see strategies such as this one scaled up in the months to come,’’ he said.
The Open Doors African Private Healthcare Initiative is one of the first initiatives to address the economic crunch that the private health sector in Africa is facing due to COVID-19.
A catalytic $700,000 investment by the U.S. President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI) enables a $17.7 million loan guarantee from the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) and $1.5 million in philanthropic funding from The Rockefeller Foundation, the Skoll Foundation, and the MCJ Amelior Foundation.
Together, this effort unlocks more than $30 million in loans to SME health providers. Additional support comes from the U.S. Agency for International Development’s Center for Innovation and Impact (CII).
UK Gives Nigeria £2m to Strengthen Health Workforce
By Adedapo Adesanya
The United Kingdom has committed £2 million in grants to support Nigeria in strengthening her health workforce in the vision of achieving Universal Health Coverage.
The grant will cover two years to support the Nigerian government in optimizing the health workforce’s performance, quality, and impact through evidence-informed policies and strategies.
It is part of a larger UK support plan to boost and support healthcare staff recruitment and retention in three African countries – Kenya, Nigeria, and Ghana.
In a statement, the British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Mr Richard Montgomery, said, “A skilled, well-motivated and adequate health workforce is critical for Nigeria to #EndPreventableDeaths and build resilience against global threats.
“This UK International Development funding aligns with the Nigerian health workforce strategic plan and will help the country upskill its workers and improve health outcomes in the long run.”
The 2-year HRH project aims to support the government at federal and state levels and support regulatory bodies, professional associations, and other key stakeholders to develop transformative strategies for scaling up the quantity and quality of health workers, including competency-based curricula development and reviews.
It was announced that it will help to align investment in HRH with the current and future needs of the population and health systems; strengthen the capacity of institutions, including regulatory bodies, for effective public policy stewardship, leadership, and governance, optimize health workers’ retention, equitable distribution, and performance and strengthen the management of Health workforce data for monitoring and accountability. The project will implement interventions in Nigeria.
The project will draw on the technical capacity of the World Health Organisation (WHO) to strengthen health systems, including experience in implementing similar projects with appreciable results in the past.
Implementation at state levels, focusing on six states of Cross River, Enugu, Jigawa, Kaduna, Kano, and Lagos, will build on the presence and technical support being provided to state governments through the 37 WHO sub-national offices in Nigeria.
“The strength of every health system reflects the capacity and adequacy of its health workforce, which are necessary to deliver quality services to address population health needs,” says Dr Walter Kazadi Mulombo, WHO Representative in Nigeria.
“Through the UK government’s generous support through WHO, we will deploy the technical support from the three levels of the organization to support the development of evidence-based policies and strategies, capacity building and management for improved planning and management of Nigeria’s health workforce”.
Helium Gets $30m to Spread Healthcare Finance Offering
By Adedapo Adesanya
Helium Health, a Nigerian healthtech company, has raised a fresh $30 million to expand the reach of its fintech product, HeliumCredit.
The company, which provides Software-as-a-service (SaaS) tools, financing, and insights to healthcare providers and public health organizations, will use the latest injection to drive growth in some of its expanding verticals.
The round was led by AXA IM Alts with participation from Capria Ventures, Angaza Capital, Anne Wojcicki (Founder of 23&Me), and Flatworld Partners. Existing investors Global Ventures, Tencent, Ohara Pharmaceuticals, LCY Group, WTI, and AAIC also participated in the round.
This is the first of its kind since the healthtech company secured a $10 million Series A in 2020 and 18 months following a rare Africa-GCC deal involving UAE-based healthcare provider-patient interaction platform Meddy.
“We believe in a future where good healthcare is a reality for all Africans, not just the few. We are deeply committed to supporting both private healthcare providers and public health stakeholders with finance, technology, and data to achieve that vision. We are delighted to have such seasoned healthcare investors accompany us on our journey,” Mr Adegoke Olubisi, the CEO and co-founder of the company, said.
In this growth phase, Helium Health also looks to deepen its collaborations within the public health and global health communities, another core focus of its work. Global health funders contribute about 15 per cent of total health expenditure in sub-Saharan Africa and play a critical role in tackling the continent’s leading causes of death, such as HIV/AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis, and maternal and child mortality.
On the part of the investors, Mr Jonathan Dean, Head of Impact Investing at AXA IM Alts, said, “We are delighted to invest, through AXA IM Alts’ impact investing strategies, in Helium Health’s mission of providing digital solutions to improve the quality and efficacy of health services in resource-constrained environments, whilst also directly equipping health sector enterprises with affordable financial services.”
“This investment directly contributes to AXA IM Alts’ broader impact goals of improving financial inclusion and reducing inequalities globally,” he added.
“We have seen first-hand the evolution of Helium Health over the years. The leadership team deeply understands Africa’s healthcare sector and knows how to build products that meet its nuanced needs,” added Mr Noor Sweid, Managing Partner, Global Ventures.
Launched in 2020, HeliumCredit has extended more than $3.5 million in credit to over 200 healthcare facilities in Nigeria, including hospitals, clinics, pharmacies, and diagnostics centres, which have used the loans to purchase medical equipment, medications in bulk and expand their locations. With easier access to credit, healthcare providers can increase patient retention, increase revenues, and improve the quality of care.
Helium Health will also launch HeliumCredit in Kenya this year, increasing its lending portfolio to 1,000 healthcare facilities by 2024 in partnership with the US International Development Finance Corporation (DFC).
Helium Health aims to be the leading technology partner for public health entities by supporting and implementing their programs and strategies in Africa. Helium Health has received funding from organizations such as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and MSD for Mothers to execute projects under their maternal health program strategies in the past year.
The company will also continue to scale its SaaS suite for healthcare providers through HeliumOS, its Electronic Medical Records and Hospital Management Information System (EMR/HMIS) solution. HeliumOS helps health facilities of any size or specialty run their operations more efficiently, increase revenues, and improve healthcare delivery.
HealthXP Unveils App to Revolutionise Healthcare Delivery in Africa
By Adedapo Adesanya
HealthXP Limited, a healthcare technology firm, has introduced a groundbreaking application, myhealthXP, aimed at addressing the healthcare delivery crisis in Africa.
With numerous challenges facing the sector, including brain drain, poor infrastructure, lack of funding, inadequate access to healthcare facilities, and the mismanagement of health records, myhealthXP offers a seamless and innovative approach to healthcare delivery in Africa.
myhealthXP is an on-demand healthcare collaboration platform designed to connect individuals with highly qualified and verified doctors, laboratories, pharmacies, and caregivers. It facilitates efficient and convenient access to quality medical attention regardless of location. Through myhealthXP, Africans can access quality and affordable healthcare at their fingertips.
During the launch event held on May 25, the Keynote Speaker, Mr Eromosele Omomhenle, a Board Member of HealthXP Limited, highlighted the gaps in healthcare delivery and emphasized the role of technology as the future solution.
He emphasized the significant number of medical doctors who have migrated to the United Kingdom, thereby leaving a scarcity of licensed practitioners in Africa.
Similarly, Dr Daniel Omomhenle, a co-founder at HealthXP, expressed the potential for African medical professionals based abroad to leverage myhealthXP in giving back to their society by contributing their expertise to the African healthcare system.
HealthXP’s co-founder, Dr Kayode Ogunleye, stated, “Our aim is to use technology to bridge the gaps in the healthcare sector across Africa. We empower patients to take control of their health records, fostering collaboration between healthcare providers and patients.
“This is the path towards recovery and improved health for our nation. With technology, Africa will not miss the IT revolution, and myhealthXP aims to be at the forefront of this progress, benefiting Nigerians and Africa as a whole.”
Describing the innovation as the “democratization of healthcare,” Mr Seni Williams, Non-Executive Director, NPL Nigeria, emphasized the importance of patients’ control over their health records.
He highlighted the significance of myhealthXP in enabling patients to have total control of their medical information and share it securely with professionals worldwide.
On his part, Mr Israel Ayodele, Head of Product at HealthXP Limited, assured users of the app’s robust security measures and data protection protocols. “We prioritize the security and privacy of your data through end-to-end encryption, strong authentication, secure data storage, regulatory compliance, and user-controlled data sharing. Our commitment to continuously enhance our security measures ensures a safe and trusted environment for your information.”
Closing the event, Ms Comfort Olatunde, Director of Product Marketing, shared her personal experience with Nigeria’s healthcare system, underscoring the need for improved solutions.
She emphasized the user-friendliness of the myhealthXP app, which is now available for iOS users on the Apple Store and Android users on the Google Play Store in select African countries, as well as the US and UK. Comfort reassured users that HealthXP had implemented a thorough verification process for healthcare practitioners, ensuring their qualifications are up to standard. Additionally, plans are underway to expand myhealthXP into other countries across Africa.
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