Charles Wachira Nairobi

General Electric (GE) chief executive Jeffrey Immelt has urged private investors to provide more funding for health care in African nations, where state services are overstretched.

Increased private investment would help improve the cost-effectiveness, quality and accessibility of health care on the continent, Immelt said in Nairobi yesterday. He was present to sign an agreement with Kenya Commercial Bank and the US Agency for International Development, which together with GE are backing a $10 million (R111m) project.

The initiative would provide funding for small and medium-sized businesses in Kenya to buy GE equipment for clinics and diagnostic centres, bringing health services “closer to the people”, he said.

Health-care expenditure in Kenya grew faster than the overall economy in the first decade of this century, driven by private sources, said Open Capital Advisors, a Kenyan financial services company. Government spending accounts for a third of health expenditure, down from 45 percent in 2000, according to its website. Private spending was expected to total as much as $3.1 billion by 2025, Open Capital said in 2012.

The government approved a plan last week to lease equipment for public hospitals and improve infrastructure under a public-private partnership. The cabinet said the 10-year project would provide critical care services in a country that had only 64 beds in public intensive-care units, against a requirement of 670 beds. It will include upgrades to renal-care and cancer facilities. – Bloomberg