It is a basic human right to live a healthy long life and access to basic healthcare. There are also multiple economic benefits of a healthier population.
Healthy, well-nourished children are more likely to go to school and stay in education longer, which is linked to higher earnings in adulthood. Healthy people work harder and better and are more likely to save money if they expect to live longer. A country’s life expectancy rate and GDP per capita has always been co-related. Meanwhile, ill health can push low-income families into poverty through loss of income and the cost of treatment.
Good progress has been made in improving life expectancy around the world. Deaths from communicable diseases such as tuberculosis and malaria that respond to a singular intervention such as a vaccine or a bed net, are decreasing. But rates of non-communicable diseases such as cardiovascular issues and cancer are on the rise, as better diagnosis has become available.
To address this, it is necessary to develop the entire healthcare system, which includes prevention, diagnostics, treatment, aftercare, insurance, and medical supplies.
There is also an increased political will to improve healthcare in many of our markets in line with the SDG commitment to achieve universal health coverage. In simple terms this would give every person access to basic healthcare for 32 different diseases and there is a huge role the private sector can play towards reaching this.
Our focus is on enabling the healthcare sector’s development and improving health outcomes in the countries where we invest. And we evaluate any investment against our health impact framework. In terms of building the health system, this means investing in organisations that enhance the healthcare workforce as well as supporting organisations that encourage stewardship of the health sector, for example through public-private partnerships. And on a patient level, it means investing in organisations that improve the quality of the healthcare that patients receive and expanding access and affordability of healthcare.
Our markets are in different stages of development and we have categorised them into different levels – 1, 2 and 3.
Level 1 is relatively developed healthcare markets such as South Africa and parts of India where we will invest to scale impact-driven innovation. An example is our investments in Rainbow Hospitals, India’s largest specialist paediatric and maternity care provider, which has brought new technology to the market that dramatically increases the survival rate of premature babies.
Our main focus is on Level 2, however, which is large markets with a developing healthcare system such as Pakistan, Egypt and parts of India where we will invest to scale healthcare provision. An example here is our investment in Aravind Eye Care which offers free or low-cost, easy to access, cataract surgery cross-subsidised by fee-paying patients.
Level 3 is undeveloped and/or smaller markets such as DRC, Gabon and Lesotho where we will be looking for partners to enable sector development.
MedAccess, a wholly owned subsidiary of CDC, provides innovative social finance that expands and accelerates access to life-changing medical supplies in Africa and South Asia.
Sector Strategist - Health and Education