Health in AfricaOn August 26, the World Bank and the Global Fund to Fight AIDs, TB and Malaria (Global Fund) committed to investing $24 billion to accelerate universal health coverage in Africa. The funding aims to achieve universal health coverage in Africa (UHC) by 2030 as part of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The announcement of funding was made at the sixth annual Tokyo International Conference for African Development (TICAD-VI). The investment will fund UHC in Africa: A Framework for Action, a plan launched by the World Bank, World Health Organization (WHO), the government of Japan, Japan International Cooperation Agency, Global Fund and the African Development Bank. The framework targets specific areas that will greatly contribute to the achievement of UHC in Africa including financing, service delivery, targeting vulnerable populations, mobilizing critical sectors and political leadership.

Over the next five years, the World Bank plans to contribute $15 billion under the Global Financing Facility, Power of Nutrition, early childhood development, pandemic preparedness, targeting the poor, crisis preparedness and response and leveraging the private sector. The Global Fund has committed an additional $9 billion in funding between 2017 and 2019 to treat and prevent HIV, malaria and TB.

Emphasizing the importance of good health for economic productivity, the President of the World Bank Group, Jim Yong Kim, stated, “African countries can become more competitive in the global economy by making several strategic investments, including investing more in their people, their most prized resource.”

Today, millions of impoverished people cannot afford proper health care and are further entrenched in poverty as a result. The provision of universal health care in Africa would create boundless opportunities for individuals to access health care and work towards prosperity.

Not only does ill-health have devastating effects on an individual basis, but it also drastically affects the economy. Poor health impedes impoverished populations from working and prevents children from attending school. Well-designed universal health care can help alleviate the burdens of poor health, including creating employment opportunities in the healthcare industry.

In 2012, the U.N. called on the international community to substantially increase its funding for health care in developing nations. Marking December 12 as ‘Universal Health Coverage Day’ and turning it into an international movement, the global community increasingly emphasizes the positive outcomes of UHC and the importance of new, innovative ways to reach the most impoverished populations.

Recognizing the importance of achieving UHC, African Heads of State, in conjunction with the World Bank and Global Fund, have vowed a commitment to the push for UHC across the continent. Through international funding, a strategic framework and both regional and global support, UHC in Africa could be an obtainable MDG by 2030.

Anna O’Toole

Photo: Flickr