Public-Private Partnerships finance national hospitals in Lesotho

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Many African governments are facing increasing demands for health financing despite having fewer resources available and receiving dwindling donor financing. This disconnect compels governments to come up with innovative financing mechanisms to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.

In Lesotho, adequate government financing is not keeping up with the need for hospitals, which has led to the search for alternative financing to build a new hospital. A public-private partnership has been found to be the most suitable way to achieve this objective.

The new hospital, a first of its kind in Africa, delivers greatly improved, high-quality, and publicly and privately funded health care services. It is the main training facility for the country’s health professionals, serving 20,000 inpatients and 310,000 outpatients a year. The hospital is a good example of the impact that private investment can have on Africa’s troubled health sector.

The Government provided US $52 million, while the total cost of the project was US $120 million. The project intends to achieve better value for money by providing a greater variety of better-quality services than those provided by other public hospitals, but at the same cost. Minister of Energy, Minerals, and Water Affairs Timothy Thahane, speaking at the High Level Dialogue among Ministers of Finance and Health on Value for Money, Sustainability, and Accountability, said the Government could afford the project. An operational cost comparison shows that the Government does not pay much more than for other public hospitals, and from the patient’s perspective, services are affordable and cost the same as at any other public health facility in the country.