ABIDJAN, July 18. (Reuters) – World Bank Program to Assist Medical Clinics in Côte d’Ivoire Purchase Equipment from General Electric (GE.N) and Philips (PHG.AS) Prime Minister Patrick Achi said Sunday he could spur the development of a cocoa-producing country into a regional health center.
As in other African countries, many small clinics in Côte d’Ivoire, the world’s largest cocoa producer, struggle to obtain the bank loans they need to buy or rent basic medical equipment.
A $ 300 million financing agreement signed Friday between Côte d’Ivoire and the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation (IFC) aims to remedy this situation by providing loans to clinics hoping to receive materials from Philips and General Electric.
“If we do not address the issue of equipping our private clinics and hospitals, this goal – to see the growth of the private (health care) sector and create jobs – will fail,” Achi told Reuters.
The program is part of IFC’s African Medical Devices Center, which partners with African financial institutions and global healthcare companies to provide local currency loans to small and medium-sized clinics to purchase equipment.
According to Achi, under the agreement, Philips and General Electric will become the only two companies from which Ivorian private and public medical institutions purchase medical equipment.
Achi sees the exclusivity clause as a cause for optimism. By limiting the choice to just two suppliers, Achi said clinics would be able to protect their equipment at a lower cost and with easier access to spare parts.
But the program’s greatest impact will be on clinics looking to grow into larger medical facilities, Achi said. If smaller institutions can fund their own expansion, then the country can expand its regional medical presence.
“One of the strengths of the project … is to ensure that the Ivorians who set up the clinics have the opportunity to become hospitals and sub-regional hospitals, so that Côte d’Ivoire becomes the destination of hospitals – a medical center,” Achi said.
Reportage by Anj Aboah; Editing by Cooper Inwin and Jane Merriman
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