M-TIBA wins FT/IFC Transformational Business Award

Safaricom has announced that M-TIBA has received the FT/IFC Transformational Business Award in the category Achievement in Sustainable Development, with a focus on Health, Wellness and Disease Prevention. This was presented during an FT/IFC award ceremony in London on Thursday, 8th June 2017.

The M-TIBA digital platform for inclusive healthcare is transforming how people in Kenya are paying for and accessing healthcare. In less than a year, nearly 1 million people have signed up. M-TIBA, developed by PharmAccess, Kenyan mobile operator Safaricom and health payment platform CarePay, enables people to save, send, receive and pay money for medical treatment through a mobile health wallet on their phone. The digital platform allows for a more efficient and transparent way of connecting patients, doctors, payers and governments that is based on a constant flow of almost real-time data.

 ‘Digital technology is on the verge of disrupting healthcare in Africa in a way that I think none of us can fully imagine yet,’ says PharmAccess Group managing director Onno Schellekens. ‘For the first time in history, we can reach and empower people who until now have been invisible to the system, building trust and a new kind of solidarity. Now that M-TIBA is up and running, we are working with a growing number of partners to develop services and products. Together, we can accelerate a transformation in the healthcare market in sub-Saharan Africa.’

M-TIBA is supported by a broad range of public and private partners, including the Dutch government, M-Pesa Foundation, Pfizer Foundation, Gilead and the Dutch Postcode Lottery. In April 2017, PharmAccess strengthened the partnership with Kenya’s National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF), applying M-TIBA within an NHIF health insurance scheme. This award also recognizes the invaluable support of these partners in building this sustainable approach. The FT/IFC Transformational Business Awards are presented by the Financial Times (FT) and International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group. The awards recognize groundbreaking, long-term private sector solutions to key development issues. This year’s theme was Catalyzing Finance and Disruptive Technologies to Boost Sustainable Solutions.

Two out of every five people in Kenya who need care do not seek treatment from hospitals because they lack the money. Nearly half of all healthcare expenditure in the country is out-of-pocket. While Kenya’s health statistics are lagging behind, the country has a head start on the rest of Africa in terms of mobile penetration. M-TIBA harnesses the power of digital to drive change in the health sector.

Bob Collymore, CEO of Safaricom says: ‘For many Kenyans, a trip to the clinic can create real financial strain. Unexpected healthcare costs are still one of the main reasons people fall even further into poverty. This award is a great recognition of how mobile – through innovative solutions like M-TIBA – is transforming access to essential services for millions of Kenyans.’

Dr. Khama Rogo, Head of Health in Africa Initiative, IFC/World Bank Group, says: 'If there is any disruptive innovation happening on the African continent today that is leading us towards the attainment of universal health coverage, this is it. M-TIBA is truly leapfrogging healthcare in Kenya. And since it’s already there, any organizations trying to reach the poor need only ask.’

M-TIBA empowers consumers, improves their financial protection, supports better quality of care and generates local and international financing for health. It directly connects patients, providers and payers such as family members, health insurers or donor agencies. Since M-TIBA was launched to the general public in Kenya in the summer of 2016, more than 920,000 people have signed up for the service.

In addition to individual savings, caregivers can send money to their dependents – certain that the money will be used for health only. M-TIBA also provides a platform for healthcare benefits, such as vouchers and insurance. So far, more than ten (international) donor and corporate schemes are running on M-TIBA, including the Kenyan NHIF. NHIF CEO Mr. Geoffrey Mwangi says, ‘As NHIF gears up towards universal health coverage, M-TIBA can help us to reach low-income groups who up to now were excluded from health insurance schemes.’

M-TIBA is also driving transformation in healthcare provision. So far, the 350 connected healthcare providers have treated more than 100,000 patients, generating more than USD 1.4m in medical transactions through M-TIBA. Healthcare facilities on M-TIBA are being quality-assessed, according to the internationally recognized SafeCare standards. In addition, they gain access to affordable credit through the Medical Credit Fund – based on their M-TIBA payments history. In addition, PharmAccess offers a range of services, including training modules to help them further improve their business and the clinical care provided.

Medical Credit Fund was also shortlisted for this year’s FT/IFC Transformational Business Award in the category Achievement in Transformational Finance. Last year, the Kwara State Health Insurance Program won the award in the category Achievement in Sustainable Development: Maternal & Infant Health.

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