In a landmark development aimed at investing in and strengthening essential, climate and crisis-resilient primary health care services in low- and low-and-middle income countries, three multilateral development banks have joined with the World Health Organisation (WHO) to launch the new Health Impact Investment Platform.
The Platform, launched during the just concluded Summit for a New Global Financing Pact held in Paris, would make an initial €1.5 billion available to low- and low-and-middle income countries in concessional loans and grants to expand the reach and scope of their primary health care services, especially for the most vulnerable and underserved populations and communities.
The African Development Bank (AfDB), European Investment Bank (EIB), Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) and WHO are the Platform’s founding members.
According to a statement, as “this is a global challenge, the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) is also considering joining this partnership in view to extending this initiative to the Latin America and the Caribbean region.”
WHO will act as the Platform’s policy coordinator, responsible for ensuring alignment of financing decisions with national health priorities and strategies.
The Platform’s secretariat would support governments to develop national health and prioritise primary health care investment plans. The Platform would also aim to catalyse wider primary health care investments in support of government health strategies.
WHO Director-General, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said a primary health care approach offers the most effective means to improve health and well-being, including through the delivery of essential health services to all people.
“It is a driver of universal health coverage, one of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. World leaders committed in 2015 to achieve access to essential health-care services and affordable essential medicines and vaccines for all people by 2030.
“Around 90 per cent of essential health services can be delivered through PHC – on the ground, in communities, via health professionals, doctors and nurses, in local clinics. The broad spectrum of services that PHC provides can promote health and prevent disease, avoid and delay the need for costlier secondary and tertiary services, and deliver rehabilitation,” Tedros said. “PHC serves as the ‘eyes and ears’ of a country’s health system, reaching to the very communities where people live. The new Health Impact Investment Platform will strengthen the development of such services, serving as an invaluable investment in the health of populations today and in the future.”
EIB President, Werner Hoyer, said the partner development banks were committed to supporting countries to strengthen their primary health care services, to both promote the health of their communities and protect against the impacts of future health emergencies.
“Covid-19 demonstrated the great human and economic suffering that can occur when we fail to invest in essential health services,” said Hoyer.
“Cooperation among multilateral development banks through the new Health Impact Investment Platform will ensure countries in need are better able to build resilient primary health care services that can withstand the shocks of future health crises, and safeguard communities and economies for the future. We already proved that in earlier collaborations with the WHO. “The platform will facilitate access to crucial international financing for the most vulnerable. It is a concrete deliverable of President Macron’s call to increase international financial solidarity with the Global South.”
Before the Covid-19 pandemic, WHO estimated that to reach the health-related Sustainable Development Goals, low- and low-and-middle income countries needed to increase their health spending significantly, and require an additional $371 billion annually combined by 2030.
This funding would allow populations to access health services, contribute to building new facilities and train and place health workers where they need to be. It has also been estimated that preparing for future pandemics will require investment in the order of $31.1 billion annually.
Approximately one third of that total would have to come from international financing. The Health Impact Investment Platform’s catalytic financing is also designed to promote the mobilisation and coordination of broader financing flows through national primary health care investment plans.
“We will work with countries individually to identify gaps in national health systems, design interventions and investment strategies, find funding, implement projects and monitor their impact,” said African Development Bank Group President Dr. Akinwumi Adesina.