Healthcare revolution on the way.

Position:Events - Africa Business: Health Forum during the February 2019 African Union Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia - Conference notes

One of the most significant events on a continental basis was the Africa Business: Health Forum staged during the AU Summit in Addis Ababa in February. The event was marked by the launch of ABCHealth, a largely private sector enterprise which sets out to comolement government efforts in revolutionising the delivery of healthcare in Africa.

"Fix health and you fix Africa," says Aigboje Aig-Imoukhueae, cofounder of the African Business Coalition for Health (ABCHealth). This is a pithy summary of the situation regarding healthcare delivery in Africa. There is no doubt that health in Africa needs fixing and until that is done, the continent cannot realise its great economic potential.

Healthcare in Africa, despite some impressive strides forward over the past decade, is still lagging far behind other regions. There is a basic truism: you cannot have a healthy economy if the population that drives that economy is unhealthy. The converse is also true. Examples from elsewhere show clearly that a healthy population is usually a prosperous population so, fix health and you fix Africa.

Africa accounts for less than 2% of global health expenditure but 15% of the population carries 25% of the global disease burden. It is only via a multi-stakeholder collaboration that this picture can be changed. Governments alone, hamstrung by tight budgets, cannot make it happen. As elsewhere, including in advanced economies, it needs the support of the private sector.

The private sector in turn is aware of the plethora of benefits it can garner from operating in a healthy environment. Business leaders know that investing in the health of employees, communities and consumers today can protect and enhance future profits--not only by ensuring business growth but by driving economic prosperity.

It was with this in mind that the public and private sectors convened at the Africa Business: Health Forum, a one-day event held on the margins of the 32nd African Union Summit in February 2019 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

The Forum was the culmination of efforts by the Global Business Coalition on Health (GBCHealth), the Aliko Dangote Foundation and the UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA). The US-based GBCHealth is a coalition of companies and philanthropists brought together to positively transform healthcare for Africa's growing population.

Leaders from government and business came together to outline greater collaboration between the private and the public sectors to improve health outcomes in Africa.

It was very encouraging to see that three Heads of State--the Prime Minister of Ethiopia, Abiy Ahmed, the President of Botswana, Mokgweetsi Masisi and the President of Djibouti, Ismail Omar Guelleh--made the time to attend and commit their countries to making the initiative a success.

The Forum launched a new partnership to drive much-needed capital into healthcare across the continent: The African Business Coalition for Health (ABCHealth) is a collaboration between the Aliko Dangote Foundation and GBCHealth.

Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede, co-founder of ABCHealth, and co-chair, GBCHealth, affirmed that "only partnerships will help solve the health challenges the continent faces.

"Healthcare in Africa is constrained by scarce public funding and limited donor support; out-of-pocket expenditure accounts for 36% of Africa's total healthcare spend. Given our income levels, it is no surprise that healthcare spend in Africa is grossly inadequate to meet Africas needs, leading to a financing gap of $66bn per annum."

In co-operation with global businesses, philanthropists and development institutions, ABCHealth will unlock synergies to enable business to play a key role in helping governments meet national and regional health goals in the context of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Agenda 2030 and Africa's Agenda 2063.

In his keynote address, delivered on his behalf by the Foundation's executive director, Halima AlikoDangote, Aliko Dangote, chairman of the Aliko Dangote Foundation, said the Forum...

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