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Increase investment in health – Veep

Vice President, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia has underscored the need for increased investment in healthcare in Africa.

He has, therefore called on colleague African leaders to make deliberate efforts towards the provision of universal health coverage for the people.

Speaking at the fifth Scientific Conference of the African Health Economics and Policy Association (AfHEA) on Monday, Dr Bawumia noted that Africa continues to lag behind in so many health indicators.

He said the scourge of the deadly Ebola viral disease had taught a painful lesson that disease knew no borders, politics, and language and thus, the urgency to collectively talk about health matters to prevent similar outbreak.

While commending the Korean Foundation for International Healthcare (KOFIH), Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, World Health Organisation (WHO) United Nations Population Fund (UNPF) and others for their contribution to health in Africa, he said supporting the work of the association cannot be left to charity alone.

He said the Primary Healthcare Performance Improvement Country Data on universal health coverage shows that most African countries fall below 50 per cent of the global benchmark, while Korea and Singapore are way above 80 per cent.

Dr Bawumia said the WHO Global Expenditure also shows low current health expenditure as a percentage to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and low domestic government expenditure for almost all African countries.

To enhance the healthcare indicators, the Vice President advised African countries to strive to achieve primary healthcare which encapsulates health promotion, prevention, maternal child care and other cost effective basic curative care financed by public taxes and by other sources.

In Ghana, Dr Bawumia told the participants that 2.5 per cent of taxes on goods and services had been earmarked to support health financing.

In a welcome address, Dr Chris Atim, Executive Director of AfHEA said the association relied on research, scientific, accurate data to make projections for improvements in health and nutrition.

He said AfHEA was committed to partnering with the governments to help improve health and prevent diseases.

Dr Margaret Agama-Anyetei, a representative of the Chairman of the African Union (AU) Social Affairs Commission said the population of Africa was projected to hit one billion by 2030 from the 2018 figure of 705 million and asked for collective effort to sustain Africa’s health outcomes. 

Dr Agama-Anyetei, who is also the Head of Health, Nutrition and Population of the Social Affairs Commission of AU appealed to the  governments to rely on scientific methods in making policy decisions on health.

Mr KIM Sungsoo, Ambassador of the Republic of Korea to Ghana, in a goodwill message noted Ghana and Korea had shared best experiences to achieve universal health coverage.

He said Korea had made strides in health coverage, having achieved universal health coverage (UHC) in 1989 and is working to complete two other areas of quality care and financial protection.  

The three-day conference is being attended by 400 participants from 40 different countries across the globe.

It is being organised by AfHEA in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and the Ghana Health Service.

Mr Kwaku Agyaman-Manu, Minister of Health, Dr Anthony Nsiah-Asare, Director-General of the Ghana Health Service, Professor Mahmoud Samba, Director General of the Ministry of Health and Public Hygiene and head of the Cote d’Ivoire official government delegation were among the participants.  

BY MALIK SULLEMANA

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