July 12, 2021
On June 18th, the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) signed Private Sector Investment Finance (PSIF) Loan Agreement with Itaú Unibanco S.A., a Brazilian private financial institution, to provide financing of $150 million. The loan will be used to enhance the healthcare sector in Brazil by improving the capacity of private hospitals and bolstering the supply capacity of medical equipment and pharmaceutical companies, especially at this time due to the pandemic.
This project is the first PSIF project to meet with “JICA’s Initiative for Global Health and Medicine,” which is our initiative to address the healthcare sector improvement in response to the spread of COVID-19. It will contribute to strengthening the healthcare system and responding to the spread of COVID-19 through support for the private healthcare sector in Brazil. It will also contribute to SDGs Goals 3 (“Good Health and Well-being”) and Goal 17 (“Partnerships for the Goals”).
The impact of the spread of COVID-19 is severe in the whole world, with infections spreading throughout the regions including Brazil. In Brazil, public hospitals are facing challenges in securing human resources and equipment. Private hospitals also play a role in supporting medical services for low-income people by accepting patients who use the Unified Health System or Sistema Único de Saúde (SUS), a national free universal health insurance system. However, due to the spread of COVID-19, the number of general outpatients and surgeries has decreased significantly, which can affect private hospitals management situations.
In addition, approximately 50% of Brazil’s medical equipment and 30% of its pharmaceuticals are imported. As supply and demand for medical supplies tightens around the world, it has become difficult to secure sufficient imports, while at the same time, domestic production capacity has not been able to absorb the whole domestic demand, resulting in shortages of masks, protective clothing, antibody test kits, ventilators, and other supplies at medical facilities.
In response to the situation in Brazil caused by the spread of the COVID-19 infection, this project will support the financing of the healthcare sector by Itaú Unibanco S.A. It will support financing to private hospitals that are engaged in facing COVID-19 crisis, which also includes private hospitals that supports SUS in terms of services for research and development, or that accept patients coming from SUS. Diagnostic clinics will also be supported, as well as medical equipment and pharmaceutical companies that have production bases in Brazil.
Besides this initiative Itaú has also been engaged in a relevant donation program called Todos pela Saúde, an initiative with the objective of combating COVID-19 and its effects on Brazilian society, through four pillars of action: inform, protect, care and return
Itaú Unibanco S.A. was stablished in 1924, and after the merger between Itaú and Unibanco in 2008, it has become the largest private financial institutions in Brazil, with a long history and a solid track record. The bank has a wealth of experience in lending to the healthcare sector and has actively been doing so in the COVID-19 pandemic.