African Parliamentarians take stock of health Financing challenges in Africa as High Level Summit opens in Brazzaville

 

 

Only two African Union countries have reached the target of allocating at least 15% of their annual budget to improve the health sector in line the “Abuja Declaration" of 200. This was revealed during the first day of the High-Level Pan-African Summit on HIV and Health Financing currently underway in Brazzaville, Republic of Congo.

While 36 countries have increased the proportion of government expenditures allocated to health, the share of expenditure allocated to health in national budgets in Africa decreased from 7.9 percent to 7.5 percent for the 2000–2016 period. However, over the same period, economic conditions in Africa were quite favorable, with an annual average growth of 4.6 percent, making it the second fastest growing region in the world.

Rt.Hon. Roger Nkodo DANG, President of the Pan-African Parliament says  it is time to walk the walk and act on our promises to make health a priority.” We have the responsibility to scale up national financial contributions allocated to health before we can count on international donors. We have the resources to achieve this, all we need is firm political will. We are lucky to have Ministers of Health and Finances at this forum and we will interrogate them on their plans to make our countries healthier. Agenda2063 cannot be realized if our people are sick.”

Hon. Simplice Zingas, Chairperson of the PAP Committee on Health, challenged African Parliamentarians to play their oversight role to ensure that finance budgets cater for urgent health needs of Africa.

“African countries can mobilize additional funds by placing more emphasis on health when determining sectoral budgets, optimizing tax collection, broadening their tax bases or increasing taxes on unhealthy products such as tobacco and alcohol. Each country can adopt the option it considers most appropriate to its socioeconomic and political context in order to increase the resources allocated to health,” says Hon. Zingas.

The opening day of the High-Level Summit featured two roundtable discussions where Ministers of Health and Finance and Parliamentarians engaged in robust engagements on "mobilization to maintain world solidarity and replenishment of the Global Fund and national HIV and health financing: role of Ministers of Health and Finance in attaining the goal of ending AIDS as a threat to public health, by 2030."

The other roundtable discussion tackled the specific issue of " investment mobilization and HIV and Health Financing in Africa." This consultation was led by civil society members, private sector, donors and Parliamentarians.

Graced by Mrs. Antoinette Sassou Nguesso, First Lady of the Republic of Congo, the Summit, being held from 11 to 12 July, is organized by the PAP in collaboration with the Republic of Congo and the United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS).

The Summit aims to engage African Union member states, international donors and bilateral partners on the need to mobilize domestic resources, maintain and sustain investments for the AIDS response in Africa, in a bid to meet Fast Track targets and to eradicate AIDS.