IFC and Imperial partner to pilot modular COVID-19 Screening in sub-Saharan Africa

23 September 2020

Johannesburg, South Africa, September 23, 2020 - IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, today announced a partnership with South African-listed Imperial to jointly develop a modular screening and treatment healthcare infrastructure program in sub-Saharan Africa to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Supported by IFC, Imperial, an integrated market access and logistics provider including healthcare infrastructure, pharmaceuticals and medical supplies, is developing a pilot project in South Africa to manufacture and deploy modular healthcare units that will provide screening, treatment and other healthcare services to COVID-19 patients. The program’s aim is to expand services in densely populated, low-income urban areas where access to healthcare is limited. Imperial will further partner with IFC to develop additional pilots in other countries in the region, including Nigeria, Kenya and Ghana, identifying country-specific needs and approaches that can be scaled up with the assistance of private healthcare service operators and government partnerships.

Mohammed Akoojee, Imperial Group CEO, said, “There is an urgent need to increase diagnostic and treatment capacity, improve healthcare infrastructure, and provide medical supplies to underserved communities throughout sub-Saharan Africa. This partnership will create a much-needed model for doing so rapidly and effectively - and for supporting communities at a time of great need.”

The project is part of IFC’s Upstream business, an ambitious new growth strategy to address complex development challenges by supporting market innovations, early stage project development efforts, and regulatory interventions that will unlock opportunities for private investment.

The first pilot of the program, which launched in South Africa in September 2020, includes five modular screening and treatment centers for COVID-19 patients. These modular testing units can be deployed in less than a day and have the potential to boost healthcare options and help reduce infection risk among people and their communities. Additionally, the modular treatment facilities created under the program will contribute to primary healthcare infrastructure options beyond the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly for underserved communities.

Adamou Labara, IFC’s Country Manager for South Africa, said, “Our Upstream work is designed to look for innovative ways to bring private sector financing to where it’s needed most, and we’re excited to be able to partner with Imperial on new avenues for fighting COVID-19 by expanding screening and treatment opportunities, and increasing access to healthcare.”

Imperial’s work in the healthcare sector includes market access and logistics services in over 20 African countries - including South Africa, Kenya, Ghana, Nigeria and Malawi - and specialises in the use of modular medical infrastructure to deliver primary healthcare. Imperial has also invested in and continues to support Unjani Clinics NPC (Unjani), a nurse-led network of modular clinics that provide primary healthcare to under-served communities in South Africa. Imperial is leveraging the Unjani network to deploy the first pilot in South Africa to support the expansion of COVID-19 screening and treatment capacity of existing clinics. The first five facilities with Unjani are in the Gauteng province, located in Tokoza, Villa Lisa, Winterveldt, Kagiso and Orange Farm.

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