Jane Ike-Okoli, head, specialist sectors, Stanbic IBTC, has said that healthcare financing was very possible in Nigeria by financial institutions.
Ike-Okoli said this at the Medic West Africa 2022 Access to Healthcare conference themed ‘Healthcare financing and the business of health’ held in Lagos.
“HealthCare lending to the healthcare sector comes with its peculiarities through adequate, efficient, and executable business strategy to grow that healthcare business,” Ike-Okoli at the conference.
She said that Nigeria’s health sector was not where it should be and the country is actually taking steps in the right direction, but because of budget allocation, we’re not where we need to be just yet. Adding that the minimum the country should have for budget allocations and the healthcare sector is 15percent but we have less than 5percent.
Industrially, she pointed out that there is a need to leverage strategic partnerships that would help the healthcare businesses to provide the function with finance equipment, medical equipment, and National and international development finance institutions (DFIs).
Speaking from experience, Ike-Okoli said that as a healthcare business or healthcare provider, you need to provide comfort if a bank or financial institution is willing to lend to you.
She said the bank or financial institution is actually buying risk and for her to buy risk, you need to provide me with some level of comfort.
“How can I or how can you as a healthcare business or someone who’s providing healthcare services provide comfort? One, you need to start treating your service as a business. A business is meant to grow. No business is meant to just stay at that level. You need a business plan.”
“You need to understand the revenue drivers in this healthcare business. Could it be people? Could it be incorporated more procedures, and provide more services, why need to diversify? Because you want to grow that business so you can make the impact that you want to make?”
Ike-Okoli told the health forum that there is a need to also build a very strong cash pool when you have a very good vision about your healthcare business, or you’re in a sector either as an equipment medical equipment dealer or as a hospital owner or a pharmacy owner or you own a diagnostic center, you need to ensure that your business plan is being tracked on a monthly basis.
“The effort identifies the importance of innovative healthcare financing in pursuit of sustainable healthcare and goes beyond direct healthcare delivery that includes tackling the social determinants of health.
“We at Stanbic IBTC have launched a short-term loan on a secured short-term loan for healthcare businesses, where they can access loans for making for about 12 months. We’ve also launched the term loan for up to three years. We’ll also be looking to receive the intervention where a healthcare provider can actually access health care funding, you know, for up to 7-10 years,” she said.
Also speaking at the conference, Akin Abayomi, commissioner for Health, Lagos state said better health financing could be achieved through strengthening primary healthcare (PHC).
According to him, “We believe and understand that the bedrock of healthcare delivery is at the primary healthcare level and Lagos state is making progress in terms of how we manage the primary healthcare structures.
“We realised that a significant number of our PHCs is not in a fit state 100percent efficiency and very poor maintenance culture over these facilities. The state government will soon invite the private sector to come in.
“Anyone interested can either build his own PHC and manage it or take over a government facility, bring it back to operational standards and continue to run the health facility under the auspices of the primary health care board.
“That way, we will accelerate the rejuvenation of the dilapidated PHCs in the state, because the government can’t build all of them in one or two years. It is going to take us five to 10 years to completely transform the landscape with new designs. So, moving forward, with the private sector now involved, it is going to be a combination of refurbishing,” he said.