Investing in health for Africa: The case for strengthening systems for better health outcomes

Investing for Health in Africa cover picture

Publication date: 2011
Language: English

A New Study Demonstrates that Investing an Additional US$21-36 Per Person in Sub-Saharan Africa Could Save States US$100 billion by 2015

Published by: 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,

“Investing in Health for Africa” argues that Africa’s current economic growth can be improved if concerted efforts are made to improve the continent’s health care systems. The Report 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).

To promote increased and improved health investment, the Africa Investment Case is developed by the Harmonization for Health in Africa to:

  • support African leaders, and their regional and global partners focus their attention and resources on health investment that works,
  • provide an evidence base for Ministries of Health to make the case to Ministries of Finance, national Parliaments, and other key stakeholders that investing in health makes economic sense and will bring considerable returns
  • promote value for money by demonstrating how the effciency with which existing and new resources are deployed in the health system can be increased through priority- setting processes based on demographic trends and the burden of disease, and
  • to mobilize leadership at the national, regional, and global levels to support national health systems in Africa in their efforts to increase the pace and sustainability of achieving better health and economic development outcomes for the people of Africa

“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. “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 also points to the need for more efficient health spending. 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.