Africa to create health financing hubs

Medics monitor the screen while performing a minimally invasive neurosurgery operation at Kacyiru Hospital. Rwanda is credited for its universal health coverage./ Photo: Courtesy.

In a bid to increase spending on healthcare in Africa, the African Union (AU) is expected to establish health financing hubs across the continent.

This was revealed on Monday, February 10 on the sidelines of the 33rd African Union Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

In a speech that was read by Rwanda’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Vincent Biruta, on behalf of President Paul Kagame, the Minister said it was critical to support member countries to achieve universal health coverage.

“Therefore, it is very important that regional health financing hubs are in the process of being established to support Member States,” the speech read in part.

According to the speech, a ‘Partnership Forum with Regional Economic Communities’ was convened in November 2019 to discuss the hosting of the regional hubs.

“It is a priority for 2020 to complete the consultations required to establish the regional hubs,” the speech says.

The Commission is reportedly engaging policy-makers and experts in various ways and a biennial meeting of health and finance ministers is expected to convene for the first time next month.

The aim is to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of health spending.

In February 2019, President Kagame in his then capacity as the AU Chairperson convened the ‘Africa Leadership Meeting: Investing in Health’ to encourage African governments and global partners to translate commitments into measurable actions.

The aim was also to align spending with country and continental priorities, and identify efficiencies that will improve millions of lives across the continent.

In the same month last year, leaders adopted a declaration on Domestic Health Financing.

The Declaration noted that very few member states were meeting the target of allocating at least 15 per cent of the national budget to health.

In a bid to support that process, the Pan-African Parliament pledged to support the Declaration at its summit in July 2019 by promoting the adoption of relevant legislation.

The report noted that in advance of the Global Fund replenishment in October 2019, the African Union Commission called upon member States to increase their commitments.

Twenty-four member states responded to the call, with a cumulative pledge of $77.2 million, representing a 141 per cent increase in Africa’s pledges compared to the last cycle.

While expenditure on health in Africa has increased significantly in recent years, Kagame indicated in his speech that domestically-financed spending by governments has stalled.

“This needs to change. We have a clear roadmap, as set forth in the Declaration, along with Agenda 2063 and the Africa Health Strategy. We must spend more, and we must spend better,” he said.

Working more closely with the private sector and other partners, he added, could also enable the continent to make sure that universal health care is within reach.

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