Addis Ababa, 13 July 2015 (ECA) – Africa has what it takes to pull together domestic resources to finance its health sector, starting with the continent’s characteristically high growth rate which has given it worldwide attention in the past years. This is the point of view of the Chief Economist and Deputy Executive Secretary for Knowledge Generation at the United nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) – Mr Abdallah Hamdok, who happened to have been a key discussant at a high level panel on the fringe of the on-going third International Conference on Financing for Development in the Ethiopian capital. His peers from the African Union Commission, the African Development Bank, UNAIDS, the Global Fund and the Ethiopian Government actively took part in the discussions on domestic financing of the health sector.
Presiding the event was the Executive Director of the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network Mr Guido Schmidt TRAUD in the presence of Ethiopia’s Prime Minister, Mr Hailemariam Desalegn, who welcomed the increasing attention on financing for health and revisited the experience of his country in the domain. The Ethiopian PM said thanks to the efficient use of domestic resources, his country has kept HIV/AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis and other diseases in check and called for strong unity between African countries and partners of the continent, in this regard.
The panel also shed light on the role of public-private partnerships and the use of public international financing mechanisms to complement national efforts.
In Mr Hamdok’s view, Africans should start making better use of their own resources, and efficiently existing health budget lines. "The mobilisation of internal resources to finance health warrants a relentless struggle against the Illicit Financial Flows through which billions year leave the continent each year.”
He enumerated a number of strategies that would help gather internal resources for the health sector. These include, amongst other things, long term planning, campaigning for the buy-in of wider society of such plans in each country, increasing resources for acquiring health inputs by laying emphasis on agriculture, education and mining. Such a strategy also needs better tax collection mechanisms, human resource upgrading in view of the structural transformation of economies, improving transparency in the extractive industries and reviewing tax regimes to help stem tax evasion.
In a nutshell, Mr Hamdok noted, improving “efficiency in general public spending helps to free up resources, parts of which could be used to increase health spending.”
The panellists all hailed Africa’s leadership in the fight against certain illnesses such as HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, calling for such leadership to be sustained. They urged African states to seal deals with the private sector in order to build the necessary infrastructure for the development of the health sector.
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