Africa unlikely to meet health SDGs without significant investment - report

GEORGE OKORE By GEORGE OKORE, 24th Aug 2016 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL http://nut.bz/3h7_jel8/
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Governments must ensure investments in health reach the poorest and most vulnerable groups and proposes innovative technology use and social protection programmes.

The 2016 ONE Africa report (www.one.org/africadatareport) on health financing, outcomes and inequalities within sub-Saharan Africa

African governments will miss health development goals unless spending prioritizes the poorest, most vulnerable groups, according to new report launched in Nairobi on Tuesday.

The 2016 ONE Africa report (www.one.org/africadatareport) on health financing, outcomes and inequalities within sub-Saharan Africa, finds that if African governments do not invest more into health sector toward poor populations, health related Sustainable Development Goals will not be achieved in the region by 2030.

The report titled “Health Financing, Outcomes, and Inequality in sub-Saharan Africa” cautions that governments must ensure investments in health reach the poorest and most vulnerable groups and proposes innovative technology use and social protection programmes. The report notes that governments will miss health development goals unless spending prioritises the poorest, most vulnerable groups.

ONE Africa Executive Director Mwambu Wanendeya, speaking at the launch, said at current public health investment levels, sub-Saharan Africa will not meet key health SDG targets by 2030. “Investments in the health sector by sub-Saharan African governments have seen significant improvements in life expectancy and general overall health. Africa’s poorest 20% face the worst health outcomes as governments continue to under-invest in the health sector,” he said.
Benjamin Jourdan , Policy Development Officer at ONE observes that Sub Saharan Africa on is lagging furthest behind on health-related sustainable development goals, relected in the highest child mortality rates and highest risk of malaria, accounting for roughly 90% of cases and deaths globally. Income inequality has also had a substantial effect in the region as progress in health outcomes in key areas has been faster for the wealthy compared to the poor.

15 years since Abuja Declaration, in which African governments committed to spend 15% of their budgets towards health, less than half of these African countries have met this target in any given year. On average, between 2012 and 2014, only Malawi, Swaziland, and Ethiopia met this target.

Crucially, investing in health has been shown to save lives and grow the economy. A study found that for every 10% increase in government health expenditure per capita, there has been a 25% reduction in under-five mortality and a 21% reduction in infant mortality. A 2013 study found that, between 2000 and 2011, upwards of 5.7% of GDP growth in sub-Saharan Africa was attributable to improved health.

Also, a recent 2016 study showed that for every US dollar invested in immunising children in low and middle-income countries, $16 is expected to be saved in future healthcare . Sub-Saharan Africa has the highest rates of child mortality, with one out of every 12 children dying before their fifth birthday.

From 2012–14, 32 countries in the region spent less than recommended $86 per capita on essential health services, while just 11 countries that spent more than recommended amount. “ If every country spending below $86 per capita on health was able to meet this target, additional funds could pay for 545 million additional antiretroviral treatments, 5.4 billion insecticide-treated bed nets to protect people from malaria or 2.6 billion vaccinations to protect children, ” the report notes.

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author avatar GEORGE OKORE
George Okore is an international media consultant, resource person/facilitator, projects/programs manager, community leader, negotiator, advocate and author/writer/columnist based in Nairobi, Kenya.

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