Earlier this week, the Corporate Council on Africa’s Health Working Group hosted a World Bank presentation of The Global Financing Facility (GFF), a broad $4 billion facility that aims to promote reproductive, maternal, newborn, child and adolescent health (RMNCAH) in low- and middle-income countries.  The GFF–which was announced in September 2014 and currently consists of front-runner initiatives in Kenya, Tanzania, Ethiopia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)–will be formally launched this July at the Third International Conference for Financing for Development.  The World Bank’s presentation emphasized the important role that the private sector can play in achieving access to healthcare in the world’s poorest nations, long after the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) expire at the close of this year.  Over 50% of healthcare services in Africa are provided by the private sector.  Consequently, facilities such as the GFF offer significant opportunities for actors in Africa’s private healthcare and pharmaceutical sectors to shape the trajectory and quality of their industry alongside domestic and international partners.

The GFF consists of financing from the GFF Trust Fund (currently funded at $800 million), the Bank’s International Development Assistance (IDA), and the International Bank of Reconstruction and Development (IBRD).  Sixty-three low- and middle-income countries have been identified for GFF Trust Fund support, which will be combined with domestic financing and strategic services delivery from sources such as the private sector.  Each country selected will receive between $10-60 million in financing, which may take the form of grants, loans, and credits, in addition to more creative forms of support such as health bonds and buy-downs.  The Bank estimates that at the close of 2030, this funding will have mobilized over $57 billion (including domestic resources), prevented between 24-38 million deaths, and improved the efficiency of funded-countries’ health systems by 15%.

During this week’s GFF presentation, Dr. Monique Vledder, co-leader of the GFF Business Team, repeatedly emphasized the untapped potential of the private sector to participate in GFF-funded initiatives at the national level, particularly in the areas of service delivery, supply chain management, medical technology and access to financing for family-care health services providers.  As explained in the GFF Concept Note, the GFF aims to support private healthcare providers and to promote the quality and efficiency of their services through a number of measures, including regulatory harmonization between countries to promote market entry for essential medicines, the reform of overly cumbersome licensing and registration regimes that result in informal private sector operation, the promotion of private healthcare provider associations, and the facilitation of private-public sector dialogue concerning healthcare services and medical supply chains.

Dr. Vledder noted that actors in Kenya’s private healthcare sector worked together to strongly influence the shape of the Kenyan GFF program, thus signaling the significant opportunity presented by facilities such as the GFF to address private sector interests and capacity.  When the Facility is officially launched in July, other countries will have a similar opportunity.  As African healthcare providers look towards a post-Ebola, post-MDG reality, they would be well advised to consider internationally-funded initiatives such as the GFF, and to fully engage with the private-public alliances that are likely to impact their industry over the next two decades.