Investment in health is an investment in economic development
29 March 2011
African Ministers of Finance and Health came together in Addis Ababa on 29 March 2011 for a high level panel discussion to explore new ways of investing in health.
The panel, entitled More health for money and more money for health, was part of the 4th Joint Annual Meetings of the African Union Conference of Ministers of Economy and Finance and ECA Conference of African Ministers of Finance, Planning and Economic Development.
The discussion aimed to foster dialogue on health financing to improve health outcomes to help accelerate achievement of the health-related Millennium Development Goals. Ministers of Finance and Economic Development from Sierra Leone and Cameroon joined Ministers of Health from Ghana and Senegal as well as the Executive Directors of UNAIDS and UNFPA.
“Investing in AIDS is not only the right thing to do, but the smart thing to do,” said UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé. “Thanks to smart investments, more than four million Africans now benefit from HIV treatment, living resourceful, productive lives and raising solid families,” he continued. “And because we have invested in HIV prevention strategically over the past decade, the rate of new infections has dropped by more than one-quarter in 22 African countries,” he added.
Investing in AIDS is not only the right thing to do, but the smart thing to do. Thanks to smart investments, more than four million Africans now benefit from HIV treatment, living resourceful, productive lives and raising solid families
Michel Sidibé, UNAIDS Executive Director
Development assistance to health more than doubled with the emergence of The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI), the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and recently, the International Health Partnership. This progress in health financing has contributed to improvements in child health, HIV, tuberculosis and malaria.
While some improvement has been made in health outcomes in parts of the Africa continent, progress is still limited and unequally distributed both among and within countries.
Abuja commitments on health financing not being met
In 2001, African Heads of State and Government made financial commitments towards meeting the Millennium Development Goals by pledging to allocate at least 15% of their national budgets to health. These pledges remain largely unmet, as only six out of 53 African States have achieved the Abuja commitments on health financing.
Moreover, some 32 of the 53 Africa Union (AU) member States still invest less than half the WHO-recommended US$ 40 per person. Eleven of these countries are investing about US$ 5 per person, an amount too low to tackle diverse health challenges and strengthen health systems.
Participants at the panel discussion concluded that investment in health is an investment in economic development. It was agreed that a key element for sustainable economic development is long-term investment in human, health and social development.
As part of his participation at the conference, Mr Sidibé also met with Mr Donald Kaberuka, President of the African Development Bank. They agreed to explore and support innovative sustainable mechanisms for funding the AIDS response on the African continent.