The Health Policy Project has ended, but work continues under a new USAID five-year project, Health Policy Plus (HP+).
NEWS & VIEWS
KABUL, Afghanistan—On February 2, 2014, and March 11, 2014, Afghanistan’s Ministry of Public Health (MoPH), with support from the USAID-funded Health Policy Project (HPP), held its first international investment promotion events in Kabul and Dubai. Aimed at attracting private investment to Afghanistan’s hospital sector, these events were attended by over 180 participants, including investors, operators, and potential partners from around the world.
According to the MoPH National Health Accounts Report 2011-2012, an estimated U.S. $285 million flows out of Afghanistan annually through Afghans seeking health care services abroad. To support government efforts to improve access to healthcare in Afghanistan, donors have constructed several hospitals that, when complete, will provide thousands of additional beds for the country. However, the government alone does not have the human resources or financial capacity to operate these hospitals and is therefore seeking private investment through a public-private partnership (PPP) model. By leveraging private sector resources to complement public sector efforts, well-designed PPPs can increase the availability, scope, and quality of healthcare services. In addition, bringing Afghanistan’s investment opportunities to the global market is a critical component in building sustainability and stability in the Afghan economy and society.
The MoPH’s Public-Private Partnership Unit (PPP), with USAID support, is leading efforts to identify international and local private operators for its PPP opportunities. In preparation for the investment promotion events, the Health Policy Project worked with the MoPH PPP Unit to develop promotional materials and conduct pre-event market sounding activities. They developed a rich and informative program that included keynote speakers from government, donor organizations, and the private sector, and conducted a series of interactive panel discussions. In these events, the MoPH showcased three upcoming PPP investment opportunities—Jinnah, Jamhuriat, and Sheikh Zayed hospitals—and provided participants with information about Afghanistan’s legal and regulatory framework for private investment.
During the Kabul event, Dr. Abdul Qadir, the Director-General of Policy, Planning and External Relations at MoPH, noted, “The government and the MoPH are…[creating] a sound environment for participation of the private sector in all relevant sectors, especially in the healthcare system… We are sure [this] will both enable us to provide improved healthcare service and also will create new opportunities for our private sector.”
Panel discussions also provided an opportunity for investors to ask questions and voice any concerns, providing government with a better understanding of investors’ needs. For example, at the Dubai event, audience members were interested to learn more about the Afghan government’s plans to improve infrastructure (such as transportation routes) to ensure more people have access to the PPP facilities, and the incentives in place to attract private sector operators to a post-conflict country.
Since the event, the PPP Unit has fielded a number of inquiries from potential investors and is preparing to begin the procurement process for the hospital PPPs. In addition, through the event preparation and execution, the PPP Unit gained valuable experience in networking and promotion, and it plans to replicate these events for future investment opportunities. With their capacity strengthened in investment promotion, the Health Policy Project is now working with the PPP Unit to develop and negotiate PPP contracts and put into place systems and processes to facilitate large-scale procurement.
Following these two successful events, Khan Mohammad Zamani, Head of the MoPH PPP Unit, said, “Just a few years ago, the promotion of private investment in health by the MoPH wouldn’t have happened. But now we have the systems in place to work in partnership with the private sector through PPPs to bring more quality health services to more Afghans. These events have generated a lot of interest from private investors in global markets, and we are ready for the next phase—which is to secure PPP contracts for all of these facilities.”
For more information on HPP's work in Afghanistan, click here: http://www.healthpolicyproject.com/index.cfm?id=country-Afghanistan
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