The Opportunities (and Challenges) of Impact Investing in Health

The 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) is underway and, predictably, a primary focus is making the most of innovative solutions to finance the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

One such approach is the development impact bond (DIB), a novel financing mechanism that brings together funding partners motivated by both social and financial returns. The DIB offers investors returns based on positive social outcomes, while outcome funders (i.e., government, foundation or multilateral development agency or other traditional funders) will pay for interventions only if they are deemed to be successful.

With encouraging results in other key development areas, impact investment is being tested against some of the world’s most vexing health issues, namely maternal mortality.

Released at UNGA, Save the Children’s latest report offers a close look into the practical applications of impact bonds in the field of maternal and child health.

Designed to contribute to the evidence base on DIBs, the report analyzes two promising projects: the Cameroon Newborn DIB and the Utkrisht Maternal and Newborn Survival DIB in India. The first seeks to extend Kangaroo Mother Care training for newborns in private and public hospitals in Cameroon. Launched in 2017, the Utkrisht Impact Bond—the largest and most ambitious health sector DIB to date—aims to improve the quality of maternal care in private healthcare facilities in the State of Rajasthan, India.

Through these case examples, the report sheds light onto the experiences, challenges and lessons learned in creating a DIB. It also provides key recommendations for donors and other potential stakeholders to engage in impact investing.

Although a lot remains to be tested and proved, early results suggest the model has great promise for improving the way health interventions are financed and delivered on the ground.

To get more in-depth knowledge of the learnings from both projects, click here.

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