IFC, Proparco, and Cerba Lancet Africa Partner to Expand Diagnostic Capacity, Support COVID-19 Response in Africa Johannesburg, South Africa, May 28, 2021—To strengthen diagnostic capacity and the health response to COVID-19 in Africa, including in some of the continent’s poorest and most fragile countries, IFC, Proparco, and Cerba Lancet Africa today announced a partnership to increase patient access to a range of laboratory tests.
Expanding access to diagnostics and laboratory testing is a critical part of tackling COVID-19, which has exposed vulnerabilities in health systems across Africa and the need for increased testing and laboratory services. Financial support from IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, and Proparco, a subsidiary of Agence Française de Développement (AFD), will reinforce Cerba Lancet Africa’s ability to upgrade its existing diagnostics laboratories in Eswatini, Gabon, Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique, Nigeria, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia.
The funding will also allow Cerba Lancet Africa to add new facilities across Africa, particularly in countries with limited diagnostic services. The company’s planned expansion will focus on the poorest and most fragile countries in the region. IFC and Proparco are providing Cerba Lancet Africa with a €15 million debt facility comprising a €7.5 million loan from IFC’s own account and a parallel loan of €7.5 million from Proparco. The loans will be supported by a first-loss guarantee from the International Development Association’s Private Sector Window (IDA PSW) Blended Finance Facility.
The project is part of IFC’s and Proparco’s COVID-19 response aimed at supporting developing countries and health stakeholders to fight the coronavirus pandemic and support long-term health and economic recovery. “Access to diagnostics is a vital part of the COVID-19 response. Accurate diagnostics is essential to providing patients with high quality care and ensuring they receive the right treatment,” said Stéphane Carré, CEO of Cerba Lancet Africa.
“This partnership illustrates our common will to actively and continually adapt the company’s assets to respond to the needs of this rapidly evolving pandemic.” “Many countries in Africa need increased laboratory capacity to meet the surging demand for coronavirus and other medical tests. Investing in diagnostics allows healthcare providers to deliver essential and vital medical support to patients, improving long-term health outcomes,” said Makhtar Diop, IFC's Managing Director.
“This partnership supports the development of a pan-African medical biology group in sub-Saharan Africa,” said Grégory Clemente, CEO of Proparco. “It will increase testing capacity in Africa helping to address some of the major diagnosis challenges amid the current health crisis. Proparco is pleased to support Cerba HealthCare, a French laboratory, in its international development through the African continent and its contribution to the COVID-19 response in Africa.” Cerba Lancet Africa currently operates in 12 countries in sub-Saharan Africa serving more than 1.6 million patients a year, making it the largest pan-African network of laboratories in terms of geographic reach and test variety.