Development Banks Unite to Boost Primary Health Care Financing 
French Health Minister François Braun (left) at an event to introduce HIIP.

Three multilateral development banks and the World Health Organization (WHO) announced the launch of an investment platform on Thursday aimed at supporting low and middle-income countries to build their primary healthcare (PHC) services via grants and concessional loans.

PHC is widely recognised as the most effective way to improve health and well-being, and the recent World Health Assembly recognised it as the driver of universal health coverage, one of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The Health Impact Investment Platform (HIIP), launched during the Summit for a New Global Financing Pact in Paris, will make an initial €1.5 billion available to LICs and LMICs in concessional loans and grants to expand the reach and scope of their PHC services.

HIIP’s founding members are the African Development Bank (AfDB), European Investment Bank (EIB), Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) and WHO. The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) is also considering joining this partnership, which would extend this initiative to Latin America and the Caribbean region.

“Around 90% 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 more costly secondary and tertiary services, and deliver rehabilitation,” said WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus at the launch in Paris.

Dr Tedros and African Development Bank Group President Dr Akinwumi Adesina

WHO will act as the platform’s policy coordinator, ensuring the alignment of financing decisions with national health priorities and strategies. HIIP’s secretariat will support governments to develop national health and prioritize PHC investment plans. 

“The COVID-19 pandemic showed significant gaps in health systems around the world, and this is particularly true in primary healthcare,” French Health Minister François Braun told the launch.

“Our world urgently needs a more coordinated financing approach, which bridges the gap between health system investment needs and the challenge of domestic funding.”

European Investment Bank president Dr Werner Hoyer said the 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.” 

“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,” he added.

European Investment Bank president Dr Werner Hoyer

The new platform builds on experience gained during the pandemic when countries worked with multilateral organizations and development banks to strengthen their health systems. 

For example, WHO, the EIB and the European Commission worked closely with Angola, Ethiopia and Rwanda to strengthen their health systems. These interventions mobilized technical assistance, grants and investments with advantageous terms to build up PHC.

Rwandan Prime Minister Édouard Ngirente said that his country had worked with several partners for over a decade to build its PHC, resulting in improved life expectancy and other health indicators.

“We believe in partnerships. You can’t build your health system alone,” Ngirente stressed.

African Development Bank Group President Dr Akinwumi Adesina said the bank “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”.

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