ABCHealth, UNECA sign partnership to improve health in Africa


The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and the African Business Coalition for Health (ABCHealth) have signed a partnership to develop two key initiatives: the Healthcare and Economic Growth in Africa (HEGA 2) report, and the West Africa ‘African Continental Free Trade Area’ (AfCFTA)-anchored Pharma Initiative.

The partnership between the two organisations, which will be jointly executed, is premised on the belief that every African has an undeniable right to quality, accessible and affordable healthcare. The relationship between health and economic growth has been effectively demonstrated by the negative impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, and it is now clear that more private sector involvement is required to support governments’ efforts on health.

The Healthcare and Economic Growth in Africa (HEGA 2) is a follow up to the HEGA 1 report, which analysed a strategic direction for African countries to better engage with the private health sector to accelerate improvements in health.

It examined Africa’s healthcare challenges and highlighted opportunities for the private sector. The report was launched in February 2019 on the margins of the 32nd African Union (AU) Heads of State and Government Summit in Addis Ababa. HEGA 2 aims to leverage innovation and extend the focus on building resilient national health systems in a post-COVID-19 era. The publication will offer robust evidence-based policy solutions to strengthen and build resilient healthcare and health infrastructure on the continent.

The West Africa AfCFTA-anchored Pharma Initiative is the blueprint for the local production of drugs and medical equipment across West Africa. The initiative focuses on strengthening the supply side of West Africa’s health sector by mobilising investment and capital to develop domestic production of internationally accepted standards and quality. This initiative is an extension of the work that ECA conducted in collaboration with the Intergovernmental Authority for Development (IGAD) and selected countries, which involved advocacy for local production of maternal and child care medicines; pooled procurement of same; and ensuring regulatory harmonisation and quality standards of medicines and products.

Regarding the partnership, Aliko Dangote, Co-Founder of ABCHealth, noted: “With the coalition that ABCHealth is building across the continent, responsible business leaders and philanthropists will have a platform that enables them to make sustainable, large scale investments in health that transform African economies and people.”

Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede, ABCHealth Chairman, stated: “We are confident of the impact this partnership will bring to bear on the continent. It is our firm belief that with the public and private sectors working together, combining political will with business knowledge, Africa’s health sector can be built to the point, where it will deliver affordable health to Africans in an equitable manner.”

Vera Songwe, ECA Executive Secretary, stated: “Investing in health is not just a social good, it also makes a good business case. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, business opportunities in the healthcare and wellness sector in Africa were estimated to be $259 billion by the year 2030, with the potential to create 16 million jobs. The pharmaceutical industry alone was estimated to be US$60 billion in 2020 and is still growing. The AfCFTA-anchored Pharma Initiative represents lucrative private sector investment and innovation opportunities that will change lives, reduce poverty and contribute to Africa’s inclusive and sustainable economic development.”