The Economist interviews PharmAccess Group director Onno Schellekens
In a recent article titled 'Private health care in Africa: A middle way?,' The Economist explores the sub-Saharan health market, highlighting several organizations that are currently active in Kenya.
As few Kenyans are employed in the formal sector, only about 600,000 people out of a population of 43 million are estimated to have bought insurance policies or been given workplace insurance. According to the World Bank, out-of-pocket payments account for $77 out of every $100 spent on private health care in Kenya.
The article explains that, until recently, Kenya effectively had a two-tier health system in which the rich attended exclusive private hospitals and the poor had no choice but to turn to often dysfunctional state facilities. Now, several organizations have started to address the gap left in the middle. In this context, the article mentions our work:
'The only sensible system, argues Onno Schellekens, who runs the Investment Fund for Health in Africa, a private-equity fund based in the Netherlands and Mauritius, is pre-paid private health insurance. Most Kenyans already agree informally among friends and relations to pool medical costs in times of need. Mr Schellekens's fund began work in September with Safaricom, Kenya's leading telecoms company, which pioneered a hugely successful mobile money system, M-Pesa. PharmAccess, a Dutch foundation that aims to bring affordable health care to Africa, is running three pilot schemes that formalize this pooling of risk. It hopes to find the right mix of price and product to persuade people at the market's bottom end to buy in. "Telecoms have proved that Africans will pre-pay for a service that works," says Mr Schellekens.
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