CoM2019: Private sector key to improving quality of healthcare in Africa

Marrakesh, Morocco, 24 March 2019 (ECA) – The call for private sector involvement to improve Africa’s health and economic growth grew louder in Marrakesh Sunday with a number of African Ministers and officials outlining efforts by their nations to improve the ease of doing business to attract private capital into the sector.

Health and Finance Ministers from Morocco, Gambia and Egypt were all in agreement that governments on the continent, while being the bedrock of primary health care, could not do it all alone, raising the need for private sector involvement to ensure quality access by all.

The ministers were part of a high-level discussion on ‘Financing health care in Africa – the role of the private sector’ held ahead of Monday’s 52nd Session of the Economic Commission for Africa’s (ECA) Conference of African Ministers of Finance, Planning and Economic Development (CoM2019).

Morocco’s Health Minister, Annas Doukkali, Gambia’s Finance and Economic Affairs Minister, Mambury Njie and Egypt’s Deputy Treasury Minister, Ihab Abu Eish, outlined their nation’s efforts in providing quality healthcare, including what role they thought the private sector could play in complementing their efforts.

They all agreed that governments cannot do it alone, hence the need for private sector involvement with nations being urged to create conducive environments for effective public-private partnerships.

ECA Executive Secretary, Vera Songwe, said the theme of CoM2019 ‘Fiscal policy, trade and the private sector in the digital era: a strategy for Africa’ dovetailed with the financing healthcare in Africa meeting.

She said Africa was growing quite fast with its population increasing rapidly raising the need for the private and public sectors to work together in delivering quality healthcare to the continent’s citizens.

“Our private sector on the continent is doing well. It is vibrant and active. Bringing the private sector in ensures that collectively we are all working towards a healthy and prosperous Africa,” said Ms. Songwe, adding Africa cannot afford to continue exporting jobs to other continents by consuming $14.7 billion worth of imported drugs annually.

She also talked of the importance of the digital era in helping solve the continent’s health woes, in particular accessing rural communities; the African Continental Free Trade Area, fiscal policy and good governance environments and their role in improving Africa’s health delivery system.

Her sentiments were echoed by UNAIDS Executive Director, Michel Sidibe.

“The private sector is an essential partner to help deliver access to quality healthcare on our continent, especially as the world is changing quickly,” the UNAIDS Chief said, adding innovation, which is largely happening in the private sector, was crucial if Africa was to achieve its developmental goals.

For his part, World Health Organization Director General, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said health spending should not be taken as a cost but an investment that saves lives.

“To realize the vision of the 2030 Agenda for sustainable development and Africa’s Agenda 2063, all African countries must invest in universal health coverage,” said Mr. WHO, adding it should not just be access for the sake of access but quality access to healthcare by all.

Participants discussed the “Healthcare and Economic Growth in Africa” report which calls for greater African private sector involvement and investment in healthcare.

The report is a joint publication by the ECA, GBCHealth and Aliko Dangote Foundation.


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Economic Commission for Africa
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