Kenyan Companies improve Health Care with Dutch Support
On December 13th the Netherlands TV show ‘Floortje en de Ambassadeurs’ showcases the work of two companies in Kenya that improve health care with innovative finance solutions. In countries like Kenya and Tanzania most people pay for healthcare out-of-pocket as most of the people in the informal sector do not have health insurance. This means that millions risk being pushed into poverty by unexpected healthcare costs that they are unable to afford.
With support of the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs the international NGO PharmAccess helps to tackle this problem by providing people with options for sharing the risks of healthcare costs and paying for care with options such as insurance and savings. These new financing options can be easily accessed through a wallet on a mobile phone thanks to the mobile platform M-TIBA. This innovation increases access to better healthcare and offers financial protection.
Traditionally Kenya may not be thought of as an innovation and technology hub, but in 2007, it was the launch pad for M-PESA, a transformative mobile phone-based platform initiated by Safaricom (Kenyan telecom daughter of Vodafone) for money transfer and financial services. Leading Kenya towards a cashless society.
Capitalizing on this revolution PharmAccess partnered with Safaricom to start the IT company CarePay to develop M-TIBA, a mobile health payment platform. M-TIBA can be accessed on basic, simple mobile phones as well as smart phones. The platform enables individuals to find a clinic where they can access basic healthcare services in the knowledge that they are either covered by health insurance, have money saved or that a family member can transfer money dedicated for their healthcare. Governments and donors can also pay into the health wallet, enabling them to reach the most vulnerable in a direct and transparent way. The platform also collects vital information about costs, quality of care, and patients’ ability to pay, helping clinics to have increased their access to loans and transparency over their business and scope for growth.
PharmAccess’ strategic partner, CarePay, was recently recognized as a Technology Pioneer 2018 by the World Economic Forum for its role in this innovation. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is one of the investors of CarePay, through PharmAccess’ Health Insurance Fund.
M-TIBA was introduced to the mass market in Kenya in 2016. To date, over 1,6 million unique participants were connected with 450 clinics providing M-TIBA as a service. Its scale and potential data value has attracted a growing number of public and private partners, including the Kenyan National Hospital Insurance Fund (the Kenyan equivalent to a 'Ziekenfonds'), institutional donors, banks and private insurers.
The Medical Credit Fund (MCF) initiative of PharmAccess provides access to finance to small and medium sized healthcare providers and has its largest operations in Kenya. Through the MCF around 420 clinics in Kenya have been able to access loans to invest in quality improvement. So far in Kenya, over 1400 loans with a total value of more than USD 25,3 million have been disbursed. MCF has a historical repayment rate of 96%. It is the only fund dedicated to financing small and medium-sized healthcare facilities in Africa and its innovative approach is designed to draw in more international impact investors.