Friday, October 17, 2008

Investing in Africa's Private Health-Care Biz

Big meeting in Washington, D.C. on Nov. 20-21 to see how US companies can make money investing in the health care systems of African countries.

According to conference organizers, "Over the next decade, $25 to $30 billion in new investments will be needed in health care assets, including hospitals, clinics, and distribution warehouses, to meet the growing health care demands of sub-Saharan Africa. It is estimated that the market for health care will more than double by 2016. With a total health expenditure of $16.7 billion in 2005, roughly 60 percent—predominately out-of-pocket payments by individuals—was financed by private parties, and about 50 percent was captured by private providers."

Read more about the US-Africa Private Health Sector Forum at the Corporate Council on Africa website.

Update: has a good Dec. 9 post, with worthy links, on the public-private debate (via Jon at GlobeMed, in the comment feed)


jshaffer said...

This is really interesting and I suspect that private investment in Africa is going to grow exponentially in the coming years. However, I worry that an emphasis in for-profit, market-based health care will only recreate the problems we see so clearly in the United States: the wealthy receiving too much care and the poor receiving little to none. I hope that Africans are allowed to develop models that work for them without massive western-based insurance companies forcing privatization.

Christine Gorman said...

That's a topic worthy of a seminar.

Here's another: Would you have the same qualms about about social entrepreneurship (the whole do well by doing good ethos), which is all the rage on campus these days?

Hey ALL! said...

With the United States in its current status of being a major global power, we have an obligation to provide for those less fortunate than us. I believe that investments made into Africa, however, must be made in conjunction with other major global powers, and not just resting all the responsibility on the US.

Speaking on how this will help the United States, there are several big ways that investing into African health care can benefit the US at the same time. For one, as health improves in a certain country, what occurs is an increase in market trade, and the US being one of the main buyers of raw products will benefit by having cost driven down, due to more efficient production. In addition, international relations will be strengthened with these African countries, which will benefit the US with more allies. Finally, investing in health care will give opportunities to those who would not otherwise have it. This increases the amount of people that could be professionals in health care and other fields, which in the end will drive down the cost of health care, which improves health in the area, which then means less investing for the United States. In any case, there are expected returns on this health care investment.

In terms of disparities, there will always be disparities, even in socialized medicine, so any health care for these countries will be better than no health care.

Christine Gorman said...

Gavin and Eliana said, "any health care for these countries will be better than no health care."

You're assuming there is no health care at all to begin with. Not true. It may not be as robust as in a rich country but there is often something available.

Many of the health care workers I met in Malawi, for example, were furious at outsiders who assumed that there was ABSOLUTELY NOTHING available.

Why not work to build up what is already there, rather than impose something from the outside?

Anonymous said...

My father and I are very excited about this conference. Our family charity, The GEANCO Foundation ( is building a modern nonprofit hospital in Nigeria. We are very eager to learn more about the investments being made in healthcare in Africa and how businesses, individuals and foundations are investing in nonprofit solutions to treating the poorest of the poor.

jshaffer said...

Here is some more good reading on the topic: