US AID provides support to Indian healthcare segment for the first time
US AID provides support to Indian healthcare segment for the first timeReuters

In an effort to bridge the gap in several medical services being provided worldwide, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) extended a loan guarantee to Wellspring Healthcare Private Limited (Healthspring), a primary health care provider, of $9 million (approximately Rs 60 crore), according to a statement by Healthspring.

This is the first loan guarantee that USAID will provide in the health care sector in India through its Development Credit Authority (DCA).

Ambassador Jonathan Addleton, USAID mission director to India, told PTI that USAID has participated in six different transactions in the renewable energy and agri space in the country till now and this is the first time that it is supporting the health care sector. And given the huge population and the demographics, there is a huge opportunity for the health care sector in the country, he added.

Small-sized private sector lender Ratnakar Bank Ltd. (RBL) will be extending the loan under the scheme for a five-year period, during which Healthspring is targeting to grow its network of family health clinics by 10 times to 300 centres, the statement said.

Highlighting the importance of this move, Addleton said in the statement: "Improving access to quality, essential primary health care services is one of USAID's most important goals in India. This loan guarantee will expand affordable, quality health care services in urban areas through an innovative integrated private primary care network in Mumbai and other major cities."

Vishwavir Ahuja, managing director and CEO of RBL Bank, told PTI that the bank is topping it up with Rs 40 crore of additional funds without any guarantee, making it a Rs 100 crore funding line for the company. Ahuja stated that though he expects the health care opportunity in the country to grow to $280 billion by 2020 from the current $40 billion, infrastructure and capital remain critical challenges.

Given the long gestation periods and the high capital requirements, banks are nervous to extend loans to this segment, Ahuja said, adding the private sector banks are best placed to support the sector given their ability to innovate.

Kaushik Sen, chief executive and co-founder of Healthspring, detailed that the company needs to raise up to Rs 200 crore in equity for achieving targeted network expansion. There have already been four rounds of fund raising in which seven investors have participated and another one will be in mid-2016.

Wellspring Healthcare Pvt Ltd operates a network of clinics and corporate health solutions under the brand name Healthspring, and with a network of 30 clinics across Mumbai and Pune, it has 100 doctors and three lakh registered users at present.