Swiss Re Foundation

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Swiss Re Foundation: How smart technology can save lives

The Swiss Re Foundation's vision is to help build societies able to mitigate health, environmental and economic risks, as well as to recover quickly from setbacks. Together with our partners we aim to achieve measurable and sustainable impact.

We support our partners through impact-oriented, evidence-based grant funding, and we alsofacilitate access to the topical expertise of Swiss Re employees. This is how we strive to foster resilient societies and complement Swiss Re's overall sustainability objectives.

In 2019, our activities focused primarily on healthcare access. Despite rising life expectancy and reductions in maternal and child mortality, as well as the prevalence of communicable diseases, at least half the world’s people lack access to essential health services. In developing countries, even those lucky enough to have healthcare must often short-change other basic needs or borrow on ruinous terms to pay for it.

We dedicated the 2019 Entrepreneurs for Resilience Award to discovering and supporting digital innovations that make healthcare more accessible to underserved communities – a growing focus in our work. Five Swiss Re experts helped us review more than 200 applications from established start-ups in 56 countries, more than half of them in Africa. After whittling down the field, we chose Kenya-based company CarePay, which is transforming how people pay for healthcare, as the winner.

In Kenya, nearly 50% of all healthcare is paid for out-of-pocket, and illness-related expenses push an estimated 1.5 million people into poverty each year. Two out of every five people who need care don’t go to medical facilities due to their financial circumstances. Yet demand for health financing solutions such as insurance, though rising, remains low. Also, while donors make about 30% of all health payments, they’re often unable to track how the funds they disburse are used.

In regions with better access to mobile phones than to healthcare, smart technology can save lives. To increase transparency and lower costs, CarePay developed a cloud-based healthcare “wallet” called M-TIBA that users can access from any mobile phone to pay for healthcare and to make informed decisions about how to finance their own healthcare and that of their relatives, friends or employees. The wallet can collect funds from multiple sources, including personal savings, family remittances, donors and health insurance.

As of 2019, CarePay had enrolled well over 4.5 million Kenyans and activated more than 2 500 healthcare providers on M-TIBA. Participating facilities are quality-assessed according to internationally recognised standards. They are also able to access affordable credit depending on their M-TIBA payment history. In 2018, the M-TIBA platform was selected as a healthcare finance platform for the mass enrolment of households in three County pilots for the Government of Kenya’s Universal Health Coverage programme.