Leaders’ Perspectives on Improving the State of Health and Economy in Africa

Alyssa GovindanNews

By historic and global standards, the advances made in health in sub-Saharan Africa since 1980 have been nothing short of staggering. People are living much longer and access to vaccinations has massively reduced death rates from infectious diseases. Yet life expectancy and particularly healthy life expectancy still lags far behind that of the rest of the world, so there is a great deal more that can be achieved.

The state of healthcare in Africa is directly related to the economic prosperity of the continent. Health impacts labor productivity, absenteeism and healthcare expenses in the workforce. Evidence links health statistics such as life expectancy and child and maternal mortality rates and a country’s GDP per capita growth.

WHO estimates that investing USD $21 – $36 per capita per year for five years in Africa would save more than three million lives, 90% of which would be mothers and children. These health improvements would directly translate into economic growth for Africa. To improve the foundation for a healthier, more productive Africa, investments and partnerships in key areas like health, employment, education and empowerment, are sorely needed.

To drive innovative solutions that can transform the state of health in Africa, Aliko Dangote Foundation (ADF), United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and GBCHealth are hosting an inaugural Africa Business: Health Forum (AB:HF) at the Hyatt Regency in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on February 12, 2019.  Convened on the margins of the African Union Summit, the forum will bring together a select group of African and global leaders in both private and public sectors to drive a health-centric agenda for Africa’s development, shaping the future of the continent by ensuring an African-driven response to reduce the burden of disease. (click here for more information on the forum)

The Forum will culminate with the launch of the African Business Coalition for Health (ABCHealth), an African led coalition that will mobilize a core group of private sector champions through a coordinated and neutral platform, to advance health outcomes and shape health markets across Africa. The coalition will serve as the regional platform to unlock synergies that will contribute more directly to meeting regional health goals, drive the mandate of creating long-lasting and effective impact in health across Africa, leading to improved health and wellbeing of people, and ultimately the African economy.

The same event will see the launch of the “Healthcare and Economic Growth in Africa” Report. Preliminary findings identify the importance of improving health to drive Africa’s economic growth, and the need for the private sector to play a significant role in improving Africa’s health.

Leading up to the forum we are publishing a ‘Perspectives’  series from the heads of the three host organizations: Mr. Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede, Co-Chair of GBCHealth; Mr. Aliko Dangote, Group President of Dangote Group and Chairman of Aliko Dangote Foundation; and Ms. Vera Songwe, Executive Secretary of ECA.

Mr. Aliko Dangote was named to the 2016 Forbes list of the world’s top 100 most powerful people and is known for his commitments to health and development. The Dangote Group is the largest conglomerate in West Africa, based in Nigeria.  A dedicated philanthropist, Mr. Dangote established Aliko Dangote Foundation in 1994, which has now become the largest private foundation in sub-Saharan Africa with the largest endowment by a single donor. The foundation works to enhance opportunities for social change through strategic investments that improve health and well being, promote quality education and broaden empowerment opportunities for individuals and communities.

Mr. Aigboje Aig- Imoukhuede has served on the GBCHealth Board since 2011 and is widely recognized as a successful entrepreneur, business leader and proponent of corporate social responsibility in the African business community.  He is the Founder and Chairman of Africa Initiative for Governance (AIG), and Coronation Capital, and previously Group Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Access Bank Plc. His experience and passion for economic development and health improvements in Africa are visionary and unrelenting.

Ms. Vera Songwe has been Executive Secretary of ECA since August 2017. She has a long-standing track record of policy advice on development in Africa. In previous roles she was regional director of the IFC covering West and Central Africa.  In addition, she continues to serve as a non-resident Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution’s Africa Growth Initiative. United Nations Economic Commission for Africa’s mandate is to promote the economic and social development of its member States, foster intra-regional integration, and promote international cooperation for Africa’s development.

Alyssa GovindanLeaders’ Perspectives on Improving the State of Health and Economy in Africa