The Abraaj Group, a private equity firm based in Dubai, has been putting millions of dollars into hospitals in North Africa. Abraaj aims to transform the healthcare system in Sub Saharan Africa and South Asia, by investing in hospitals that provide affordable, quality care.
Currently, most countries in Africa only have one or two hospitals, creating a struggle to provide quality care for everyone in each country. In 18 months, Abraaj Growth Markets Health Fund (AGHF) has invested in 24 hospitals, 17 clinics, and 30 diagnostic centers. By the year 2020, Abraaj and its partners aim to have a network of 30 hospitals and impact 10 million lives.
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Abraaj Growth Markets Health Fund
The firm’s AGHF, an independently run, $1 billion health fund focuses on its hospitals in Africa, Pakistan, and India. AGHF’s funding comes from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the medical parts companies Philips Healthcare and Medtronic, and other big institutional investors.
“Essentially, AGHF is on a mission to provide affordable, accessible, and high-quality health care to middle and low-income patients in the region,” said Fredd Kambo, a director in the healthcare team at the Abraaj Group with responsibility for East Africa. “As an example, the provision of hospital beds per 10,000 people stands at 14 in Kenya versus a global average of 27. We, therefore, are embarking on a journey to partner with local healthcare operators to provide them with capital and expertise to address the urgent need.”
Kenyan Hospital Investments
The firm owns 10 hospitals and 18 medical clinics in Kenya, and it announced last year that it plans to add more hospitals to the country.
“Right now we have invested in Nairobi Women’s Hospital, Avenue Hospital, Metropolitan Hospital, and Ladnan Hospital,” Kambo said. “We are also interested in diagnostics and are seeking opportunities to invest in lab and imaging businesses in this area. Apart from the direct acquisitions, we have conducted a free NCD screening programme which reached 32,000 people in Nairobi.”
In Kenya, 67 percent of health care expenses are paid out of pocket, so Abraaj’s goal of bringing a more affordable option to the country would allow many more citizens to receive the care they need. But Abraaj needs to balance making a profit for their investors and bringing quality, affordable health care to the country.
“Look, this is not Mother Teresa stuff — we have a responsibility to our investors,” Khawar Mann from the Abraaj Group said. “But in this case, I really think that you can do good and make money.”
Ensuring Quality Healthcare
To ensure that their facilities are providing quality care to their patients, Abraaj established the Abraaj Chief Medical Officer Council which is a network of the Medical Directors from all of their hospitals.
Abraaj has been upgrading vital medical equipment in their hospitals, such as x-ray machines, upgrading operating theaters, and improving the overall infrastructure of the facilities. They are also working on training programs for nurses and other professionals, to ensure that there are healthcare professionals on site that are adequately trained to help patients.