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Sub-Saharan Africa has about 11 percent of the world’s people, but it carries 24 percent of the global disease burden in human and financial costs. Almost half of the world’s deaths of children under five take place in Africa.

This challenge is significant but not insurmountable. There is a tremendous opportunity to leverage the private sector in ways that improve access and increase the financing and quality of health care goods and services throughout Africa In a region where public resources are limited, the private sector is already a significant player.

Around 60 percent of health care financing in Africa comes from private sources, and about 50 percent of total health expenditure goes to private providers. Just as important, the vast majority of the region’s poor people, both urban and rural, rely on private health care. A poor woman with a sick child is more likely to go to a private hospital or clinic than to a public facility.

The IFC provides opportunities for developing, engaging, and supporting a well managed and effectively regulated private sector to improve the region’s health. We hope that governments, donors, investors, nongovernmental organizations, and health care providers find our support complementary to traditional public sector approaches. We look forward to exploring partnerships with African companies, banks, and investors, as well as policy experts and other stakeholders in health care.

Despite the scope of Africa’s health challenge, I am optimistic about what can be achieved in the next few years.

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  January 01, 2008