PMNCH/Africa Public Health Alliance press release: African health financing

A New Study:

Investing in health crucial to Africa’s economic growth

Africa’s current economic growth can be improved if concerted efforts are made to improve the continent’s health care systems, a new study reveals.

A new study, conducted jointly by the group: Harmonization for Health in Africa, consisting of WHO, World Bank, UNFPA, USAID, UNICEF, UNAIDS, JICA, the African Development Bank, in collaboration with the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health, and entitled “Investing in Health for Africa: the Case for Strengthening Systems for Better Health Outcomes”, says investing in the African health sector could help save millions of lives and prevent life-long disabilities. At the same time, investments in health would accelerate the move towards attaining the U.N. Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

“Healthier is wealthier,” says the 51-page report. “In addition to the fact that there’s an intrinsic value of health and that health is a human right, the economic case for investing is robust.”

According to experts, improved healthcare is essential for sustainable development. Healthy citizens are more productive, earn more, consume more and work longer, all of which have a positive impact on the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of a country.

The report adds: “Better health also reduces the financial costs of health care for the family, the community, the private sector and the government.” The report notes that an average additional spending in Sub-Saharan Africa of US$21-36 could in 2015 alone save over 3 million lives, 90% of which would be women and children and generate US$100 billion in economic benefits

Recent findings on the impact of health – as measured by life expectancy – on economic growth, suggest that one extra year of life raises GDP by 4%.

The report in addition to noting a need for increased investment in health points to the need for more efficient health spending. The 2010 World Health report notes that globally between 20 and 40% of health system spending is wasted with poorer countries wasting an even higher proportion. Ministries of Finance during the late March conference also noted a need for better spending of existing and new resources.

The study notes that evidence based planning and budgeting and investment in driving demand for health services while strengthening the systems that provide these services is required. The study also notes that mechanisms need to be put in place to pool risks and ensure a more equitable approach to health, better manage health financing (i.e. results based financing) and promote cross sectoral initiatives and programs among others.