The global coronavirus pandemic (also known as SARS-CoV-2 or COVID-19), remains the major headlines all over the world. It has become a catalyst fast bringing many long simmering social and economic problems to the boil. It has put huge pressure on the health services and resources of almost every country on the Planet. Healthcare systems throughout the world which remain largely in the industrial age are unable to cope with the prevailing international and national demands and challenges without major restructuring. COVID-19 has reinforced the need for international collaboration and the imperative to build stronger health systems for universal health coverage, including financial risk protection, access to quality essential health-care services and access to safe, effective, quality and affordable essential medicines and vaccines for all.

In Africa, COVID-19 has underscored the importance of international collaboration, public and private sector partnerships, political commitment and knowledge sharing – to deal not only with the double burden of the traditional persisting health emergencies (communicable) and emerging health challenges (non-communicable) but to increase life expectancy, reduce maternal and child mortality, addressing existing inadequacies, inefficiencies and unmet needs across the healthcare life cycle from initial research to service delivery to overarching health systems.


In September 2015 the United Nations introduced the new global development agenda for 2015 through 2030 and adopted a set of seventeen SDGs, with 169 specific targets, encompassing the social, economic and environmental dimensions of development.

Prominent among the goals are eradication of poverty and hunger, access to affordable and quality healthcare and education, dealing with climate and environmental degradation, and a range of other goals across building sustainable infrastructure and making cities more sustainable. The SDGs support peace and justice and promote economic growth that is inclusive, equitable and sustainable. These aspirations for human dignity are fully in line with the principles and objectives of development from an Islamic perspective (Maqasid Al-Sharia).

The Sustainable Development Goal 3, which specifically focuses on access to quality healthcare and wellbeing, presents ambitious plans for universal health coverage, the attainment of which requires considerable financial investment and, thus, the high need for strong health financing systems.

One of the most salient factors that however challenge the achievement of some of the targets of SDG – 3 by 2030 is the shortage of financial resources. The current level of healthcare financing in Africa is not sufficient to meet the scale and ambition of the SDGs and African governments continue to face fundamental health financing challenges in this area.

The question on how to raise the necessary funds, how to maintain financial risk protection and how to ensure efficient use remains unclear for many African countries. What is however clear is that for health financing interventions to be scalable, sustainable and resilient for future generations, infrastructure has to be upgraded, must be cost recovering, value driven and services delivered in partnership with the private sector and catalytic investments. The private sector should not only be considered a funder alone but also a co-implementer of health solutions.


It is recognised that for the SDGs to be achieved by 2030 there has to be a high degree of co-operation and partnership across all stakeholder groups. SDG 17 focuses specifically on this issue, stating that: “… multi-stakeholder partnerships [are] important vehicles for mobilizing and sharing knowledge, expertise, technologies and financial resources to support the achievement of the sustainable development goals in all countries, particularly developing countries. Goal 17 … seeks to encourage and promote effective public, public-private and civil society partnerships, building on the experience and resourcing strategies of partnerships. ”

Given the scale of the financial resources required to support SDG-3, coupled with the strain on government budgets, the mobilization of financing through innovative instruments becomes imperative. Given its emphasis on risk-sharing, linkages to real economic activities, partnership-based and equity-focused approaches, widened geographic reach and the rapid expansion of its global assets in Muslim and non-Muslim countries, Islamic finance possesses the unique potential to serve as a potent tool for mobilizing as yet untapped sources of liquidity to support strategies to achieving the Sustainable Development Goal 3 (SDG 3) in Africa.

As an organization committed to fostering the Islamic paradigm of economic development in Africa, the Africa Islamic Economic Foundation (AFRIEF) intends to play an active role in mobilizing Islamic Finance and human resources to support the strategic objectives and priorities of African countries to achieve SDG -3. Indeed, meeting the strategic objectives and priorities of all African Governments as far as healthcare is concerned require harnessing public and private sector partnerships and investments to support the drive for affordable and quality healthcare system in Africa.


The Africa Healthcare Accelerator Program (AHAP) is a flagship initiative of the Africa Islamic Economic Foundation launched to complement the efforts of African Governments to restructure their healthcare systems by harnessing the power of telecommunications, information and multimedia technologies – digital dispensaries and telemedicine – and Islamic finance to transform the delivery of healthcare services and improve health outcomes in Africa.

The Initiative partners with development finance institutions, vertical funds and philanthropies to deploy Islamic commercial and social finance instruments, with specific emphasis on PPPs, waqf, qard Hassana, Zakat and social Sukuk to support African countries to transform their health care systems amid the current global health crisis and attract, particularly, ESG investors (those looking to invest for social reasons) and/or Islamic investors (looking for Sharia-compliant investments. It is in this contextual melting pot of ESG investing, Islamic socially responsible financial products, and impact investing, that innovative participatory finance will fusion to enable funding for Healthcare projects to actualize SDG-3 in Africa.

The focus of the Program will be on people and services, while using technology as the key enabler to provide an accessible, integrated, high-quality and affordable healthcare system that is recognized as one of the best in the world. With its emphasis on wellness and services, resources and technologies will be structured to empower and enable people to maintain the highest possible state of health and well-being throughout their lives.

The Initiativeis supported by a comprehensive change-management program that addresses healthcare organization,health model design/process re-engineering,people issues and healthcare financing, an enabling framework of policies, laws, regulations, standards and technologies.


The Initiative provides a conceptual model and implementation road map for the roll-out of digital dispensaries/telemedicine across the continent, to leap a whole generation from industrial age medicine to information age healthcare that links Africa into a global network of virtual health services.

The implementation road map describes the selection and implementation of initial pilot projects, the expansion of initial pilots, the selection, implementation and expansion of new pilots, the establishment of new, as well as the restructuring and  upgrading of existing primary healthcare infrastructure and facilities, with all digital dispensaries and telemedicine projects selected, implemented and rolled-out nationally.

The digital dispensaries and telemedicine projects will be established andexpanded and rolled-out along three dimensions: by functionality/features, by reach, and by healthcare program/discipline.Five high-impact projects which have been selected as initial pilot projects are: Mass Customised/Personalised Health Information and Education; Continuing Medical Education; Digital dispensaries/Teleconsultation; Healthcare Infrastructure Development,and Lariba Healthcare Plan.

The Initiative provides an innovative methodology enabling participating countries to measure their current health care delivery and outcomes, healthcare expenditures, assess their financial needs in the medium term and identify the most suitable finance solutions to bridge their national health finance gaps.

The Program is coordinated by a team of internationally recognized experts supporting country implementation and the continuous improvement of the AHAP methodology. The Initiative would enable participating countries to exchange experiences through a variety of cooperation mechanisms such as international workshops, the AFRIEF website, dedicated webinars and other platforms.


The strategic technical partner of the Initiative is Glocal Health Systems Pvt Ltd, an Indian tech enabled social-enterprise that works to make healthcare affordable, accessible and accountable to all. Glocal Health Systems currently runs 12 hospitals, 250+ digital dispensaries in India and Hellolyf telemedicine platform.Its flagship innovation, Hellolyfcx is a world class portable digital clinic which is safe even in a pandemic like COVID19, protected by UV-C light disinfection, positive pressure and acrylic barrier between the nurse and the patient. It does not require the physical presence of a doctor. Doctors can see patients remotely on video, conduct examination remotely through internet of Things, all tests are done using point of care diagnostics, and medicines are dispensed automatically from a machine. The Hellolyf CX Digital Dispensary won the Best Innovation Award at the just concluded Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) Virtual Innovation Marketplace (HIEx2020).


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