72nd World Health Assembly Geneva, Switzerland 20 -24 May 2019
On 20th May 2019, Africa Health Business played host to healthcare leaders over dinner at the Intercontinental Geneva along the sidelines of the 72nd World Health Assembly. Leaders and key representatives from organizations such as the African Union, WHO, Global Fund, Ministry of Health Kenya, Ministry of Health Uganda, WAHO, GE Healthcare, IntraHealth, DAI, Amref Health Africa, IPFMA, Medtronic Foundation and Merck converged to discuss the growing focus on private sector engagement in healthcare. There is a clear need for policy reform to create a pro-growth environment which will spur investment within the sector. Whilst several Ministries of Health have taken steps towards opening doors to the
private sector, in many countries it remains a challenge. However, this hurdle comes not only from the public sector, but also from the private sector itself which remains fragmented and lacks the ability to unanimously voice the challenges they face.
AfricaCDC organized a Ministerial Round Table Discussion under the title of: Sustainable Models for Health in Africa on 21st May 2019, chaired by the Hon. Chitalu Chilufya Minister of Health Zambia, Dr John Nkengasong, Chairman of Africa CDC Board, and H.E. Amira Elfadil, Commissioner of Social Affairs, African Union. In attendance were Ministers of health from Egypt, Cameroon, Tunis, Morocco and Malawi along with leadership from the private sector and development partners.
In her opening remarks, H.E. Amira Elfadil emphasized the importance of engaging all stakeholders at the African Union Level. She further added their objective was build capacity and create 5 regional centers of excellence to address pandemics and epidemics based on the experience of the Ebola outbreak between 2013 and 2016. During this period, $28.5 million was raised to aid the outbreak and a further $50 million during the post recovery period from partners such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, WHO, US-CDC and China CDC amongst others. To achieve this, the African Union is committed to championing sustainable financing solutions through the Abuja declaration. To date, only 3 out of 55 African countries have achieved the targets of the Abuja declaration.
Hon. Chitalu Chilufya, Minister of Health Zambia emphasized that health security is fundamental to economic growth and the key to sustainable development is through healthier populations. In order to ensure healthier societies strengthening primary healthcare is at the core and health must be community and people centered. To achieve this, there must be innovation in health systems and better financing solutions, with a focus on health security to protect economic development programmes. The entire African health ecosystem must work together to ensure ACDC is rooted.
The Minister of Health Mali, Hon. Michel Sidibe in his comments emphasized the importance of the private sector. There is $66 billion deficit in Africa and an additional $259 billion needed in terms of investment in the health sector over the next ten years. The public sector alone will never able to reach this goal if private sector is not engaged. His question to the other Ministers and the audience was “how do we change the paradigm through innovative finance to create access?” There is chronic aversion of capital investment in Africa and policy reforms are urgently needed to attract private sector who can bring transformative know-how to do business as well as technology.
The Minister of Health Ethiopia, Hon. Amir Aman accentuated the need for strong country frameworks to manage epidemics. In order to create win-win strategy, synergies and sustainability from public private partnerships are a must to get innovative financing solutions.
From the private sector, Dr. Amit N. Thakker, Chairman of Africa Health Business congratulated the Africa CDC, African Union and Ministers of Health present on their initiatives and for recognizing the strengths of the private sector. In the overview of the current status he highlighted that the non-state sector provides 53% of health services in Africa. 2 observations were vivid – trust is building between the public and private sectors with growth in strong leadership and public private partnerships are growing to include philanthropy and people resulting in 5p models.