Despite strong economic growth in many parts of Africa over the last few decades, access to affordable healthcare is still one of the greatest challenges to sustained economic development.
We have formed a partnership with Barclays that aims to increase access to affordable healthcare and medicines for people living in Zambia, while promoting economic development. Both Barclays and GSK have a long history offering services across Africa.
Ultimately, our ambition is to create a model that can be launched across the continent - to provide accessible affordable healthcare to many more people.
By combining the skills of a major bank with our own pharmaceutical expertise, the project aims to remove some of the financial barriers to healthcare access in Zambia, while simultaneously helping to support new businesses and create jobs. Together with Barclays we will jointly invest £7 million over three years (2013-2016) with the aim of helping one million people out of a total population of about 14 million living in Zambia.
Improving access to healthcare
About two-thirds of the Zambian population lives in poverty and the cost of buying medicine is prohibitively expensive for many people. Supply chains are inefficient – meaning that those people who can afford to go to a clinic often find that there are no medicines available when they get there.
In Zambia, it is estimated that only 50% of rural households are within five kilometres of any kind of health facility. Constraints in the healthcare system can make it difficult to access treatment for common illnesses. Diseases such as pneumonia and diarrhoea remain among the leading causes of death in children.
"Access to affordable and quality healthcare is one of the biggest challenges to development across Africa."
“Zambia has a population of nearly 14 million with a high rate of infectious diseases and a rapidly rising burden of non-communicable diseases. The government is working to tackle the problem, but they need help. The Zambian National Health Strategic Plan calls for increased public-private partnerships to work with them to address health and economic challenges.”
Our partnership has set up a dedicated team in the Zambian capital of Lusaka. Working with government and other organisations in Zambia, our team will explore how to build a cost-effective, private sector medicine supply chain.
It will look at establishing small enterprise health outlets in areas where people may otherwise have had to travel significant distances to access basic healthcare.
The team will also test an affordable micro-health insurance product that will be used to cover small, but essential health services for individuals and families living in Zambia.
In addition, the partnership team will explore ways to improve healthcare awareness so that people make informed decisions about their health, reducing the risk of illness and its economic impact on poor communities.
“If we are successful with our three-year pilot here, we hope to be able to use this model to help more people in other African countries,” says Susan. “The project is in its infancy, and we have made some ambitious plans. We cannot deliver alone – finding the right partners to work with us is key to making a real difference to the lives of many people in Zambia. There is an African proverb which says: ‘If you want to go fast, travel alone. If you want to go far, travel with others.’”