IFC supports landmark hospital project in Lesotho

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Maseru, Lesotho, October 29, 2008-IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, together with a regional consortium led by health group Netcare and the government of Lesotho, announced a landmark public-private partnership agreement to build a state-of-the-art public hospital that will dramatically improve the quality of medical services in the country.

The agreement was signed by Lesotho and the Netcare consortium. IFC acted as lead advisor on this project, a pioneering public-private partnership that serves as a model for increased private sector participation in Sub-Saharan Africa's overburdened health sector.

Netcare will design, build, partially finance, and operate the new hospital, which will provide clinical services for up to 18 years from a consortium of Lesotho doctors, service providers, and investors. The new 390-bed National Referral Hospital will replace the aging Queen Elizabeth II Hospital, which faces shortages of hot water, heat, medical supplies, pharmaceuticals, trained staff, and reliable equipment.

Thanks to the innovative public-private partnership structure, operating costs for the new hospital will be roughly equivalent to those at the existing facility. Patients will have access to greatly improved medical services and care, but pay the same minimal charge as they do at other public hospitals in Lesotho.

Mphu Ramatlapeng, Lesotho's Minister of Health and Social Welfare, said, "This exciting project provides us with a new, advanced referral hospital that will offer a wide range of services, specialized medical equipment, and highly trained staff. It will also serve as the nation's primary clinical training facility for health professionals."

Laurence Carter, IFC Director for Infrastructure Advisory, said, "This pioneering project provides a new and sustainable model for governments and the private sector to work together in providing better health services for Lesotho and the wider region."

The project will also refurbish three semi-urban filter clinics that, together with the main hospital, will operate as a health network for the region.

Dr. Victor Litlhakanyane, Director of Group Stakeholder Relations at Netcare, said, "By partnering with the Lesotho government, we will be contributing greatly to making quality clinical services more accessible to the people."

The project is expected to cost $100 million, which will be partly funded by the Development Bank of Southern Africa. Construction is expected to begin in January 2009, with projected completion of the clinics in late 2009 and the hospital in mid 2011.

About IFC

IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, creates opportunity for people to escape poverty and improve their lives. We foster sustainable economic growth in developing countries by supporting private sector development, mobilizing private capital, and providing advisory and risk mitigation services to businesses and governments. Our new investments totaled $16.2 billion in fiscal 2008, a 34 percent increase over the previous year. For more information, visit www.ifc.org.

About Netcare and the Consortium

Netcare is South Africa's foremost private hospital and health care group. It operates the largest private hospital network in South Africa and the United Kingdom and leads a winning consortium. The consortium, Tsepong (Pty) Limited is comprised of Netcare (40 percent); Excel Health (20 percent), an investment company for Lesotho-based specialists and general practitioners; Afri'nnai (20 percent), an investment company for Bloemfontein-based specialists and general practitioners; D10 Investments (10 percent), the investment arm of the Lesotho Chamber of Commerce; and WIC (10 percent), a Basotho Women investment company. For more information, visit www.netcare.co.za/live/index.php.