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Flint Atlantic invests in Africa Healthcare Network

Flint Atlantic Capital Partners (Flint Atlantic), a Nigerian based healthcare impact investment firm, has announced an investment into Africa Healthcare Network (AHN), the largest dialysis and kidney care services chain in Rwanda. The investment was made jointly with US-based Polaris Partners (Polaris), a leading global healthcare venture capital firm and will help to fund AHN’s expansion in Rwanda and across Africa over the next two years.

AHN operates dialysis units in government hospitals as well as stand-alone centers and has already achieved several laudable feats, including signing the first Public­Private Partnership with a district hospital in the history of Rwanda in April 2016.

“Our plan is to open over 20 dialysis centers in the next two to three years as we focus on bringing high quality, affordable kidney care to sub-­Saharan Africa. Our mission is to increase access to treatment and raise awareness of kidney illnesses across the region,” Nikhil Pereira­Kamath, AHN CEO and Co-Founder explained.

The dialysis market across Africa is highly under-­penetrated and characterized by fragmentation with limited access for most people. As concurrent demographic and epidemiological changes that increase the prevalence of Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) occur, the demand for such services is expected to increase. CKD is the leading condition that necessitates dialysis services. Within this context, AHN is uniquely positioned to become a regional dialysis services leader, given its execution capabilities, competitive costs, and competent management team.

Speaking of the investment, Dr. Kelechi Ohiri, Managing Partner at Flint Atlantic, stated, “This deal demonstrates our commitment to increasing the access to and quality of health care, particularly for underserved segments of the population. Together with AHN management and Polaris, we are excited to continue delivering social impact and are currently exploring other potential markets such as Nigeria and Tanzania where there are strong fundamentals and significant need for dialysis and kidney care services.”

Flint Atlantic is excited to partner with Polaris Partners on this deal, as this marks the first foray of the US firm into sub-Saharan Africa. Flint Atlantic will continue to execute investments in innovative and disruptive healthcare businesses across the region in a bid to create scalable and sustainable companies delivering measurable social impact.

About Flint Atlantic Capital Partners

Flint Atlantic is an Africa-focused healthcare impact investment firm. Leveraging deep insights in the African healthcare landscape, Flint Atlantic makes investments that unlock the market potential of the health sector across all stages of the value chain. As an impact investment firm, Flint Atlantic aims to deliver measurable social impact to communities in addition to sustained financial returns to investors. Flint Atlantic also provides advisory services across a range of competencies including financial management, business operations, general management, organizational design and market intelligence.

Flint Atlantic and Polaris back AHN

Nigeria-based Flint Atlantic Capital Partners and US-based Polaris Partners have teamed up to back Africa Healthcare Network (AHN), Rwanda’s largest dialysis and kidney care services chain in an undisclosed deal.

AHN operates dialysis units in both stand-alone centers and government hospitals. The fresh capital, which was provided via a convertible note, will be used to fund AHN’s expansion in Rwanda and across Africa over the next 2 years. The plan calls for the company to open over 20 dialysis centers to meet the expected growth in demand caused by concurrent demographic and epidemiological changes that increase the prevalence of Chronic Kidney Disease.

The investment was led by Dr. Kelechi Ohiri, Flint’s Managing Partner and Amy Schulman, a Venture Partner based in Polaris Partners’ Boston office. The transaction marks Polaris Partners’ first investment foray into sub-Saharan Africa. As part of the deal, Flint will be able to nominate one of its senior executives to a seat on AHN’s board, while Polaris will be able to appoint a board observer. At the time of publication, no decisions have been made as to whom will represent each of the new investors.

Commenting on the investment Kelechi Ohiri said “This deal demonstrates our commitment to increasing the access to and quality of health care, particularly for underserved segments of the population. Together with AHN management and Polaris, we are excited to continue delivering social impact and are currently exploring other potential markets such as Nigeria and Tanzania where there are strong fundamentals and significant need for dialysis and kidney care services.”

Cabinet Nyemb provided legal advisory services to Flint Atlantic and Polaris Partners on the deal while Africa Healthcare Network were advised by GlobaLex Chambers.

Gisenyi Hospital Gets Kidney Dialysis Centre

Residents of Northern and Western provinces who used to travel long distances to seek kidney treatment either in Kigali or elsewhere will no longer do so following the opening of a dialysis centre at Rubavu Hospital last week.

The dialysis centre brought relief to the patients in a region who could only get these services in Kigali or in Huye District.

Other dialysis centres are at the University Teaching Hospital of Kigali (CHUK), King Faisal Hospital Kigali, as well as at University Teaching Hospital of Butare (CHUB) in Huye. “It was a serious issue; I suffer from kidney complications and I would travel three times a week to Kigali to use the dialysis. Transport and meals alone would cost at least Rwf50,000,” said Christine Dushimirimana. In medicine, dialysis is a process for removing wastes and excess water from the blood and is used primarily as an artificial replacement for lost kidney function in people with kidney failure.

Other dialysis centres are at the University Teaching Hospital of Kigali (CHUK), King Faisal Hospital Kigali, as well as at University Teaching Hospital of Butare (CHUB) in Huye.

“It was a serious issue; I suffer from kidney complications and I would travel three times a week to Kigali to use the dialysis. Transport and meals alone would cost at least Rwf50,000,” said Christine Dushimirimana.

In medicine, dialysis is a process for removing wastes and excess water from the blood and is used primarily as an artificial replacement for lost kidney function in people with kidney failure.

It may be used for those with an acute disturbance in kidney function (acute kidney injury, previously acute renal failure or progressive but chronically worsening kidney function, a state known as chronic kidney disease stage 5).

The centre was constructed by Gisenyi Hospital in partnership with Africa Healthcare Network.

Dr Patrick Ndimubanzi, the State Minister in charge of Primary Health Care, commended the initiative but took the opportunity to urge Rwandans to take precautionary measures to prevent contracting such lifestyle diseases whose treatment is very costly.

He said sports and avoiding excessive consumption of salts and avoiding sitting for long hours, could be enough to prevent oneself from kidney complications.

Rwanda: Private Operator Starts Affordable Kidney Dialysis

In most cases, kidney failure leaves many lives in need of kidney dialysis - an artificial method of filtering blood. A patient needs dialysis when they lose about 85-90% of their kidney function.

This treatment is so expensive in the country that many patients who can't afford it unfortunately die. There's even no health insurance service provider to support except RSSB and FARG.

It's against this background that the Africa Healthcare Network (AHN) opened the first private dialysis clinic in Kimihurura. With skilled nephrologists, the clinic will offer services at lower costs.

"We have over 130 years of experience in kidney treatment. Together with Rwanda's leading nephrologist, Dr. Joseph Ntarindwa, we have been serving patients for over 100 years. This expertise has allowed us to build a world-class center," said Ram Chellan, the AHN director for East Africa.

According to Chellan, Dr. Ntarindwa led the initiative to bring kidney care to the country. He mentioned that they will operating on a 20-40% discount compared to other hospitals in Rwanda. Their long-term goal is to continue to lowering the costs as they provide better services, and to increase awareness of both acute and chronic kidney diseases.

"We are planning to partner with the ministry of health to increase awareness of kidney diseases across the country. We will identify and host events for people at risk (patients with diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, smoking, obesity, high cholesterol, etc.), and educate them on the risks and the progression of the disease. We will also identify patients whose kidney disease is in early stages and delay the progression and prevent the onset of dialysis," Chellan adds.

He further said that they will be inviting physicians from across Rwanda and broader East Africa to learn from leading nephrologists. Two events have already been held; one at Kanombe Military Hospital and another at King Faisal Hospital.

Chellan noted that a patient who does dialysis thrice a week and pays Rwf 120,000 per session will need Rwf 1.5 million per month elsewhere.

"We have reduced the price to Rwf 82,000 to save lives of those who will be waiting for a kidney transplant. This is the lowest we could offer as the equipments and maintenance of kidney dialysis is so expensive," said Chellan.

Eric Hakizimana's father has a kidney failure. He had brought him at the center for dialysis from where he said that he was enjoying the quality of service being offered to his father.

"I started seeing changes within only one week. My dad has been on treatment for one year but we have not seen as much improvement as he got here; they use filters that we could not find anywhere else in the country. He could swell and he could not walk on his own. That is now gone and he says he feels better, says Hakizimana.

Dr. Joseph Ntarindwa explains that kidney failure may occur from an acute situation that injures the kidneys, or from chronic diseases that gradually cause kidneys to stop functioning.

"It is possible to lose 90% of kidney function without experiencing any symptoms or problems, diabetes at 44% (types 1 and 2) and high blood pressure at 32% are the most common causes of CKD," said Dr. Ntarindwa, the chief medical director at AHN.

Dr. Ntarindwa added everything about kidney dialysis is now at their world class facility and patients may no longer be required to go to India.

"We plan to introduce kidney transplantation in the near future so that patients don't only rely on permanent dialysis but also get a more durable treatment without travelling abroad for surgery," said the doctor.