Remarks by Ambassador Robert F. Godec USAID/General Electric/Kenya Commercial Bank Launch Event

Thank you and good morning.

Jeff Immelt, Chairman and CEO, GE Corporation; Jay Ireland, President and CEO, GE Africa; Joshua Oigara, CEO, Kenya Commercial Bank; Mark Feierstein, USAID Associate Administrator; Earl Gast, USAID Assistant Administrator for Africa; Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen.

I am delighted to be here this morning to recognize the ongoing collaboration between the U.S. government and our private sector partners to help strengthen Kenya’s health care system.  Today’s launch is a great example of how innovative public-private partnerships can be the most productive, and it shows that when we work together, we can get things done.

A key goal of the United States in Kenya is to build strong partnerships that lead to sustainable economic growth and deliver social benefits to communities – in particular to underserved youth, women, and the rural poor.  One measure of our success will be our ability to expand markets and develop strong institutions that attract private sector investment long past the life of our technical programs or financial support.  As President Obama said when launching his Global Health Initiative, “we cannot simply confront individual preventable illnesses in isolation.  The world is interconnected, and that demands an integrated approach to global health.”  The partnership that we are building here today is precisely the kind of interconnected, integrated solution that we need.

Here in Kenya, the health sector has achieved much to improve the health and well-being of people all over the country.  Future efforts will need to focus on sustaining these accomplishments and making further progress toward providing the best possible health care to all Kenyans.

Building on 50 years of friendship, the U.S. Government is partnering with the Government of Kenya, but also with key development agencies, civil society, faith-based groups and private sector organizations to help improve the survival, well-being and productivity of the Kenyan people.  Our investments have ranged from improving access to maternal health care to supporting polio campaigns; from contributing to declines in the burden and severity of malaria to helping strengthen Kenya’s devolving healthcare delivery system.  The President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief program– or PEPFAR – in Kenya represents one of the largest U.S. government investments in HIV globally.  In partnership with the Kenyan government, we are supporting over 600,000 Kenyans on treatment, and over 600,000 orphans and vulnerable children.

Despite these achievements, we know that the issues of human resources, health care financing, and procurement of adequate drugs and equipment, among others, are among the most pressing, the most contentious, and the most difficult to resolve.  These are challenges that require partnership and commitment. We hope that our investments can positively influence and add value to the major reforms envisioned under Kenya’s new constitution.

Kenya’s growing number of private health facilities can be positioned to help meet these demands and support the Kenyan Government to meet its public health goals. The 2009/2010 National Health Accounts analysis estimates the private healthcare market at 27.5 billion shillings annually, representing a contribution of some 22 percent of all health services in the country.  A large number of the poorest Kenyans use a private facility when a child is sick.  A third of couples get their family planning from the private commercial sector.  And one in 10 Kenyans go to NGOs or faith-based organization facilities.  Clearly the private sector is currently playing, and should continue to play, a key role in the financing and provision of health services throughout Kenya.

Leveraging private sector engagement in ways that improve access, increase health resources, and over time reduce the high dependency on external donor financing will require innovation.  The transaction we are launching today serves to highlight one initiative that will put private capital to work for things that in the past were traditionally supported with donor assistance. In this agreement the United States will leverage not only the resources of one of Kenya’s finest banks, Kenya Commercial Bank, but also the strength and expertise of General Electric, one of America’s leading companies. This financing facility will make up to $10 million in lending available to health care providers in Kenya to purchase life-saving equipment – from portable ultrasound to MRI machines.

We are very excited to be part of this initiative; to be partnered with GE which brings advanced medical technology to Kenya; and with KCB, a progressive-minded financial institution that brings the necessary financial resources to the table.  Together, we will realize the true value of investing in Kenya’s healthy, productive future.

Thank you.  Asanteni Sana.