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Africa Leaders undermine Health Investment for Development

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By Ndidi Chukwu

A concluding outcome of the Africa Ministers Conference is that African governments and their Minister of finance are still in doubt that health investment could trigger development. A comparative info graphic on health investment in Africa published at the conference said  “evidence from financing shortfalls demonstrates that despite numerous declarations ( Relative Progress) – African governments including finance ministers are not yet fully convinced that health investment is the key to sustainable development”

The Conference which held in Ethiopia, 30/31 of March, had in attendance some Africa finance ministers, to deliberate on ” Financing For Development” but health investment remains low among the black nations. Health experts at the conference were of the opinion that poor health financing has left most African countries unprepared for epidemics and is likely to undermine New Post 2015 Sustainable Development Goals, and Africa 2063 Agenda.

A report made available to Health Reporters said “experts estimate that a one year improvement in life expectancy can result in an increase in GDP of up to 4%, low life expectancy in African countries underlines an important reason for persistent economic under development and poverty”

For preparedness against Epidemics like Ebola, domestic resource mobilization is key to meeting post 2015 Sustainable Development Goals and Africa 2063 Agenda.

But experts suggests Improved Tax Base; and Innovative/Dedicated Financing such as airline, tourism, telecoms tax are crucial; as well as ending illicit financial out flows. They also called for the need for an Africa Human Resources for Health Development Fund as Health Systems cannot function without Health Workers, and Africa cannot “borrow” Health Workers to prevent epidemics. Preventing Epidemics could cost low compared to lose on lives. Africa’s experience from Ebola demonstrates again like Malaria, HIV before it that improved health financing must be combined with multi-sectoral investment across finance, planning, and human, social and economic development sectors.

“Health Worker shortages have undermined fight against Ebola and Health Development Goals” findings of the report also indicates. It said “health worker shortages are a key reason why most African countries will not meet health and related MDG’s, and unlikely to meet the Post 2015 and regional AU 2063 Development Goals unless this is address through a distinct health goal, including human resources for health and supported with a human resources for health education development fund”

Liberia with about 4 million people has only 51 doctors compared to over 12,000 doctors for roughly the same population in Croatia. Sierra Leone with almost 6 million people has 136 doctors compared to over 18,000 in Denmark for roughly same population. Guinea with about 11 million people has just over 900 doctors compared to over 76,000 doctors in Cuba for about same population, and Nigeria has just under 59,000 doctors compared to over 295,000 doctors in Japan which has 40 million people less than Nigeria.

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