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UBS launches world’s first performance-based healthcare investment


Rajasthan has one of the highest maternal and newborn mortality rates in India (Keystone) - Click to enlarge

The Zurich-based UBS Optimus Foundation has announced the launch of the first Development Impact Bond (DIB) in the field of healthcare. If successful, it could save over 10,000 lives in India.

The foundation, which is the philanthropic arm of the Swiss bank UBS, will invest a total of $3.5 million (CHF3.45 million) to help reduce mother and infant mortality rates in the state of Rajasthan in northwestern India.

Rajasthan has one of the highest maternal and newborn mortality rates in the country – 244 maternal deaths per 100,000 births and 47 infant deaths per 1,000 live births.

The investment will be used by the non-governmental groups Population Services International and Hindustan Latex Family Planning Promotion Trust (HLFPPT) to help 440 private health clinics deliver better healthcare to expecting mothers.

“The NGOs will help the clinics obtain government accreditation in self-care status, both in terms of infrastructure and quality of care. This in turn should translate into lives saved,” Maya Ziswiler, head of social and financial innovation at the UBS Optimus Foundation, told


Lives saved estimate table

Innovative model

Depending on the number of clinics receiving accreditation, UBS Optimus could receive up to 8% interest on its investment. As an investor, UBS bears the risk of losing money if the targets are not met and can make a profit if they are exceeded. The money will be paid out by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and Merck for Mothers (MSD for Mothers), which have committed up to $8 million.

“The government of Rajasthan is committed towards improving maternal and newborn health and is working with the government of India towards achieving the SDGs [Sustainable Development Goals]. We see innovative public private partnerships, and the engagement of private capital, as an essential strategy in our toolkit towards this goal,” said Naveen Jain, secretary for Rajasthan’s Ministry of Health and director of India’s National Health Mission.

This will be UBS Optimus Foundation’s second DIB in Rajasthan. It is currently running a three-year pilot DIB that aims to keep girls from dropping out of schools and to improve education performance.

Full story here
Anand Chandrasekhar
Anand Chandrasekhar is a professor of biological sciences. Researching with mice and zebrafish, he studies mechanisms involved in the development of the nervous system. He is particularly interested in the development of cranial motor neurons, which are groups of cells controlling the movement of various muscles in the vertebrate head such as the eyes and the jaw. Using cell biology and genetic knockout methods, his lab is currently focused on deciphering the mechanisms regulating the migration of these neurons, and how they organize to establish functional neuronal circuits. These studies will provide insight into the underlying causes of neural tube defects such as spina bifida, and of human neuronal migration disorders, such as lissencephaly, also known as “smooth brain” disorder.
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