ABIDJAN (Reuters) – A World Bank program to help medical clinics in CÃ´te d’Ivoire procure equipment from General Electric and Philips could boost the development of the cocoa-producing country into a regional medical hub, said Prime Minister Patrick Achi on Sunday.
As in other African countries, many small clinics in CÃ´te d’Ivoire, the world’s largest cocoa producer, are struggling to obtain the bank loans needed to buy or rent essential medical equipment.
A $ 300 million financing agreement signed Friday between CÃ´te d’Ivoire and the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation (IFC) aims to remedy this situation by providing loans to clinics wishing to obtain supplies from Philips and General Electric.
“If we do not solve the problem of equipping our private clinics and hospitals, this goal of seeing the private (health) sector grow and create jobs will be unsuccessful,” Achi told Reuters.
The program is part of IFC’s Africa Medical Equipment Facility, which partners with African financial institutions and global medical supply companies to provide local currency loans to small and medium-sized clinics for the purchase of equipment.
Under the deal, Philips and General Electric will become the only two companies from which Ivorian private and public medical institutions will purchase medical equipment, Achi said.
Achi sees the deal’s exclusivity clause as a reason for optimism. By limiting options to just two vendors, Achi said clinics will be able to secure their equipment at a lower cost and with easier access to spare parts.
But the biggest impact of the program will be on clinics looking to expand into larger medical facilities, Achi said. If smaller institutions can fund their own expansions, the country can expand its regional medical footprint as well.
“One of the strong axes of the project (…) is to ensure that Ivorians who have created clinics have the possibility of becoming hospitals and sub-regional hospitals, so that CÃ´te d’Ivoire becomes a hospital destination – a medical hub, âsaid Achi.
Report by Ange Aboa; Editing by Cooper Inveen and Jane Merriman