Africa’s leaders gather to launch new health financing initiative aimed at closing funding gap and achieving universal health coverage
African governments, business and global health leaders call for increased investment in health
US$200m in public and private sector commitments announced
Addis Ababa, 10 February 2019 – African Heads of State and Government, Ministers of Health and Finance, business leaders and global partners gathered yesterday ahead of the 32nd Summit of the African Union (AU), to launch a new initiative aimed at increasing commitments for health, improving the impact of spending and ensuring the achievement of universal health coverage across Africa’s 55 countries.
With the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development just over a decade away, H.E. President Paul Kagame, President, Republic of Rwanda and AU Chair, convened the Africa Leadership Meeting: Investing in Health to encourage African governments and global partners to translate commitments into measurable actions, align spending with country and continental priorities, and identify efficiencies that will improve millions of lives across the continent.
“Governments should surely be willing and able to increase domestic investment in healthcare. A good indicator of this is the progress we have made toward securing the financial health of the African Union and mobilising our own resources for joint priorities, such as the Peace Fund. We should be the first ones to contribute to efforts that directly benefit our people,’’ said President Kagame.
H.E. Moussa Faki Mahamat, AU Commission Chair declared, “We set ambitious health targets for 2030: ending epidemics and achieving universal health coverage for all. But the reality is that without substantial increases in domestic investment, and a radical change in the way health is harmonised to domestic and continental priorities, we will soon lose any realistic chance of reaching these objectives. Member States and Africa’s partners must reorient health spending and health systems to target the diseases across the life cycle that have the greatest measurable impact on mortality and human capital development. We have a responsibility to African citizens to increase our investments today and we must not turn our back on them.”
Since the Abuja Declarations in 2000 and 2001, Africa’s progress in improving health outcomes has been significant. Life expectancy has increased by more than a decade, deaths from infectious diseases like malaria have halved in Sub-Saharan Africa, and under 5 mortality rates have seen an increased rate of reduction.
However, enormous challenges remain. More than half of Africa’s population currently lack access to essential health services, and millions die every year from commonly preventable diseases. Meanwhile, only three AU Member States dedicate 5% of GDP to health, as set out in the Abuja declarations. Between 2016-16, 30 Member States increased the percentage of government budget invested in health, while 21 decreased their investment.
The new initiative is the first platform of its kind bringing together governments, business leaders and the global development community, to coordinate efforts and resources for health.
“I am tremendously inspired by this African-led initiative to boost investments in health across Africa,” said Peter Sands, Executive Director of the Global Fund. “To end epidemics, strengthen health systems and deliver universal health coverage, we all have to step up our investments in health.”
The meeting saw public and private sectors, as well as donor governments, pledge up to US$200 million to help end epidemics and bring universal health coverage to all. Higherlife Foundation, the Government of Ireland and Government of France all committed to increased financing of health in Africa, with the Government of Japan tabling universal health coverage as an agenda item at the G20 Osaka Summit later this year, carrying forward commitment to and collaboration on health.
Meanwhile, African leaders urged countries to increase efficiency in their health sectors. The World Health Organization estimates that efficiency improvements could unlock at least 20%, and as much as 40%, of current spending on health, creating significantly better outcomes. More effective tax and revenue collection systems were also discussed, noting that improvements in these areas could have the potential to raise an additional US$200 billion annually.
African leaders and global partners alike noted that the return on investment from increased and improved health financing is remarkable – 9-20 times the level of investment. $30 per person can generate $100bn in economic gains five years later.
H.E. Sahle-Work Zewde, President of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia noted, ‘Africa needs transformational leadership. We must bring hope and opportunity to our people and offer them full and prosperous lives. Growing our continent will be impossible if we do not put significant investments in health”
Recent months have seen concerning news which puts decades of progress at risk: measles and malaria cases rising, the rising toll of Ebola, and a rise in vaccine-derived polio outbreaks. Adding to the challenge is the fact that development assistance for health has stagnated since the 2008 financial crisis. While Africa accounts for 24% of the world’s disease burden and for 16% of the global population, it receives just 1% of global health spending.
Dr Seth Berkley, CEO of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance commented, “Since 2000, more than 293 million children in Africa have been immunised thanks to Gavi support. While we know that governments across the continent face a range of competing, worthy priorities, it’s inspiring to see so many choose to put the health of their population first. Gavi commends the African Union and the Government of Rwanda for their leadership in improving health outcomes for the continent and stands ready to support countries in their efforts towards building sustainable immunisation and health programmes to help ensure no child dies from a preventable disease.”
Bill Gates, Co-Chair, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation said, “The time to mobilise domestic resources for health is now. The nations of the African Union have set bold, ambitious targets. If governments increase their investments in health, not a decade from now, but immediately, we know it is possible to meet set targets. We can end the epidemics of AIDS, TB, and malaria. We can achieve universal health coverage and grow Africa’s economy in the process.”
Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General, World Health Organization commented, “Universal health coverage is not a luxury only rich countries can afford. All countries can make progress with the resources they have. The Addis Ababa Call to Action is a powerful commitment from African Union leaders to increase domestic financing for health, and to hold themselves accountable for that commitment.”
The Addis Ababa Call to Action will formally be adopted during this Summit with a Declaration read by H.E. President Kagame.
NOTES TO EDITORS
Chaired by H.E. President Paul Kagame, President, Republic of Rwanda; Chair, African Union, the Africa Leadership Meeting: Investing in Health is a platform launched by the African Union. Partner organisations include: The Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, Gavi the Vaccine Alliance, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
More than a meeting, it is a unique opportunity for African Heads of State and Governments to discuss increased domestic health financing, make pledges to participating organisations, and to engage the private sector – specifically African companies – and to encourage participating organisations to collaborate more to increase impact.
The goal of the Africa Leadership Meeting: Investing in Health is to secure full, healthier lives for all through:
· Sufficient, sustainable and efficient financing. Through increased domestic investments, contributions from the private sector and global partners, and improved access to health financing mechanisms, as well as ensuring current funds are being used in the most efficient and equitable way.
· Cooperation for increased impact. By aligning approaches and sharing best practices between the public and private sectors and development partners, to ensure that the strategies in place are diversified, balanced, efficient and sustainable.
· Tracking and reporting on progress. To secure continued global, continental and national efforts and keep health financing high on the agenda.
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Niger launches continental campaign to end Malaria
Commits to eliminate the disease as a public health threat by 2030
Niamey, 25 October 2018- Niger on Thursday last week launched the Zero Malaria Starts with Me, a continent-wide campaign to end the disease as a public health threat by 2030. Endorsed by Heads of State and Government at the 31st Summit of the African Union in July 2018, the campaign is an initiative of the African Union and the RBM Partnership to End Malaria to engage all members of society towards the elimination of the disease. The meeting brought together various players in the malaria community in Niger, the Roll Back Partnership, the African Union Commission, the Africa Leaders Malaria Alliance, ministers, members of the diplomatic corps and various key stakeholders.
"I declare launched the pan-African campaign, Zero Malaria Starts with Me in Niger. Long live multilateral cooperation for a Niger without malaria! It is critical that we mobilise leaders, communities, the private sector and the media at various levels to fight this disease, which is the main cause of morbidity and mortality in Niger and a threat to economic development," said Dr Idi Illiassou Mainassara, the Minister of Public Health of Niger.
Niger has made the fight against malaria a priority in its national health policy in line with the Catalytic Framework to end AIDS, TB and Eliminate Malaria in Africa by 2030 and the Global Technical Strategy for Malaria (2016–2030). Based on successful campaigns in Senegal, Cameroon, and across Africa, the campaign supports countries in building multisectoral partnerships to fight malaria. The campaign will build awareness, engage the private sector to mobilise resources, advance community led initiatives and high level political commitment.
In Niger the campaign is being championed by the First Lady, Her Excellency Hadjia Aïssata Issoufou. Through the “Guri Vie Meilleure” Foundation she has supported the government malaria elimination agenda through the mobilisation of preventive treatment. She has also been instrumental in advancing the elimination agenda at the sub-regional level as Ambassador of the initiative for the elimination of malaria in eight countries of the Sahel.
“The Catalytic Framework to end AIDS, TB and Eliminate Malaria in Africa by 2030 provide clear milestones and targets to end Malaria as a public health threat. We need to increase domestic investments and strengthen weak health systems that pose a very high risk to malaria control and elimination in Africa. The Zero Malaria Starts With Me campaign will fast track the implementation of National Malaria Control Programmes and ensure that our countries remain on track,” said Dr. Marie-Goretti Harakeye who is the Head of AIDS, TB, Malaria and Other Infectious Diseases at the African Union Commission.
African countries need to ensure that there is universal access to malaria prevention, diagnosis and treatment; transform malaria surveillance into a core intervention; harness innovation and expand research and strengthen the enabling environment.
The World Malaria Report 2017 warns that initiatives to eliminate malaria are at the crossroads. Funding has stagnated and progress has stalled, putting millions of lives at risk and compromising decades of investment. Overall, the African continent accounts for over 90% of the global burden of malaria. While in some countries the number of cases of the disease and related deaths has increased by more than 20% since 2016, others show that it is possible to reach the end of it. There remains a major gap in coverage of interventions and services including suspected malaria cases that are not investigated with a diagnostic test. Annual investment per person at risk remains very low and the funding situation is currently not sustainable as countries continue to rely on external funding for much of their program financing. Domestic funding of malaria programmes in Africa remains unacceptably low.
For more information on the campaign visit the online platform www.zeromalaria.africa
New York, Sept. 25, 2018- African first ladies meeting Tuesday at the margins of the 73rd United Nations General Assembly called a global partnership to support the Free To Shine campaign to end pediatric AIDS and keep mothers alive and healthy. The Launch in January 2017 of this joint Organisation of Africa First Ladies Against HIV/AIDS and the African Union campaign is predicated on sustained community and global level action to mobilise the resources needed to prevent mother to child transmission of HIV.
“We are committed to leveraging our unique position to advocate for women and children affected by HIV and AIDS. We know there is a window of opportunity for action to achieve the AIDS-free generation in our lifetime. While African countries gradually increase domestic health financing, forging global partnerships remains a critical pillar in supporting national efforts to eliminate mother-to-child transmission of HIV,” said acting President of OAFLA, Her Excellency Madam Adjoavi Sika Kabore, First Lady of the Republic of Burkina Faso.
UNAIDS warns that the global AIDS response is at a precarious point and that action must be taken now to achieve global targets to end AIDS as a public health threat by 2030. The risk of mother-to-child transmission of HIV can be up to 45%, but this can be reduced to below 5% if mothers receive effective interventions. While progress has been made to combat the AIDS epidemic in Africa, children have been left behind. Of the 1.8 million children aged 0 to 14 years old living with HIV globally, 1.7 million are in Africa. More than 90% of these infections are from mother-to-child transmission.
‘We can get quick wins if we prioritise the prevention of unintended pregnancies among women living with HIV; prevent HIV transmission from women living with HIV to their babies and provide appropriate treatment, care and support to mothers living with HIV and their children and families’ said Her Excellency Mrs Amira El Fadil, the Commissioner for Social Affairs of the African Union Commission.
Currently, success in eliminating new HIV infections is hampered by inequalities in treatment access and poor adherence caused by such factors as stigma, discrimination and lack of knowledge. While intervention programmes exist, insufficient investment is constraining progress.
“Stigma, discrimination and false beliefs about treatment are some of the most common reasons that women living with HIV don’t access services nor remain on the medication that will help prevent them passing on the virus to their children. The influence of the First Ladies through the Free To Shine campaign plays a very important role in addressing these issues,” said mothers2mothers Mentor Mother Babalwa Mbono from Republic of South Africa.
The Mentor Mother model delivered by mothers2mothers involves training and employing mothers living with HIV to become healthcare workers providing essential health services to their community.
“Failure to retain women and children on HIV treatment has a ripple effect that is felt throughout families, communities and the AIDS-response. Lack of adherence and retention to treatment are among the last obstacles in ending AIDS. We have found out that the most lasting and impactful solutions reside within communities, families and women themselves, whose support is critical to eliminating HIV-related stigma and discrimination,” said Fatoumata Ndiaye, Deputy Executive Director of UNICEF, speaking at the OAFLA event.
For further information, please contact:
African Media Nardos Berhanu, Organisation of African First Ladies Against HIV/AIDS (OAFLA) | firstname.lastname@example.org | +251-115-508069; Tawanda Chisango, African Union | email@example.com | +251-934-167052
Global Media M&F Health | firstname.lastname@example.org | +44-207-492-1793
About the Free To Shine Campaign
The Free To Shine campaign was launched in January 2018 by the African Union and OAFLA, and is widely supported by partner organizations that are leading the work to end AIDS, including UNAIDS, UNICEF, WHO, EGPAF, Abbott and Aids Accountability International.
For more information about the Free To Shine campaign, please visit www.freetoshineafrica.org or follow us on Twitter at @Free_To_Shine and Facebook at @FreeToShineAfrica.
About the Organisation of African First Ladies Against HIV/AIDS
Established in 2002 the Organisation of African First Ladies Against HIV/AIDS (OAFLA) brings together African First Ladies and various partners committed to end AIDS as a public health threat by 2030. OAFLA provides continent wide leadership advocating for policy and social change, engaging in resource mobilisation efforts from the global, continental and national levels. Through First Ladies and other champions OAFLA drives action in the grassroots communities working with Africa’s most vulnerable including women and children infected and affected by the AIDS epidemic who also bear the brunt of poverty and social marginalisation. For more information about OAFLA visit: www.oafla.org
About the African Union
The African Union spearheads Africa’s development and integration in close collaboration with African Union Member States, the Regional Economic Communities and African citizens. AU Vision: to accelerate progress towards an integrated, prosperous and inclusive Africa, at peace with itself, playing a dynamic role in the continental and global arena, effectively driven by an accountable, efficient and responsive Commission. For more information about the African Union visit: www.au.int