Health and life science

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Health and life science

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Good health is a precondition for economic prosperity. Healthcare plays an important role in the overall economy, it accounts for 8% of the total European workforce and for 10% of GDP in the EU. Rising life expectancies will bring with them demographic changes in the EU with implications for socioeconomic systems, such as public pension programmes, health, family, community and elderly care.

As the EU bank we support projects which aim to ensure universal access to effective, safe and affordable healthcare services.

In 2018, we helped to improve healthcare services for 27.3 million people. In addition, our loans backed safer drinking water for 20 million people and improved sanitation for 10 million.


Our health sector objectives are aligned with the overall EU strategic priorities. In the area of healthcare we work on three principles which guide our selection of projects for financing:

  • Projects which enable universal access to effective, safe and affordable preventative and curative health services;
  • Projects which provide sustainable health services;
  • Projects with the highest expected economic value for society, taking into consideration outcomes and impacts, such as health outcomes, employment creation and social gains.

We support economically and financially sustainable health sector projects, based on best practices. Moreover, we focus on healthcare and health system interventions that address potential market distortions in the countries in which we operate, enabling governments, local authorities and other stakeholders to overcome local barriers.

Focus on healthcare

Within our lending the following areas are our key areas of intervention, recognising the importance of infrastructure investments but also increasingly looking at the role of innovations in health systems, research and medical education:

  • Health infrastructure
    Hospitals are a major focus of our lending. Integrated networks of healthcare delivery are also becoming more important for our clients as part of new models of healthcare delivery, especially when it comes to cross border cooperation.
  • Innovation
    Our lending for innovation is linked to medical research and/or structural changes in the way health is delivered and financed. We encourage both private and public sector innovation.
  • Fundamental medical research
    Medical research bears a high financial and economic risk and often comes with long lead times. Research projects have very variable, but often highly valuable outcomes. Research into a vaccine which initially looks to have no financial or economic benefit, may end up as a breakthrough discovery for society.
  • Medical education and training
    We support both educational and training programs in the medical field and necessary reforms in the set-up of the medical education systems as a long-term investment in the future of the health sector.
  • Patients, integrated care and community involvement
    The integration of care across the continuum of healthcare services is at the heart of many EU countries policies. We support the holistic approach of focusing healthcare on the final beneficiaries - patients and the general population.
  • Health informatics
    Equipment, technology, data or education, small or large scale solutions – they are all critical pillars of the medicine of the present and the future. We support their efficient and ethical use in dedicated projects or as separate interventions.

Health is wealth

The lack of surgical care in many communities is unfair to a large part of the world’s populations and holding back many economies. Emmanuel M. Makasa, a Zambian surgeon and diplomat, is fighting to make surgery accessible to all people.


We have a wide range of products to support public and private investments offering flexibility, expertise and creativity to get projects off the ground