Report shows that a healthier Africa will boost economic growth on the continent

July 24, 2013

The report launched at the Special Summit of the African Union (AU) on HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria highlights increased, targeted health spending as an essential foundation for greater economic growth and development in Africa. The report published by the African Union and the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), reviews progress made since the African Union 2001 Abuja Declaration.

Abuja Declaration

The 2001 Abuja Declaration was a historic milestone for Africa. For the first time, the nations of Africa declared that the AIDS epidemic was a full-fledged emergency on the continent. A central element of the 2001 Abuja Declaration was the commitment to allocate at least 15% of public expenditures to health by 2015. Leaders pledged to mobilise domestic and international resources for health and remove barriers to the AIDS response. Over the last five years, health spending in Africa has risen by about 10% annually. However, spending is still nowhere near where it needs to be, as only six AU member states (Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Rwanda, Togo, and Zambia) have achieved the 15% Abuja target.

Five Recommendations

The new report highlights recent successes in the HIV, TB and malaria responses in Africa, including substantial reductions in the number of new HIV and TB infections and deaths from malaria. There is now much broader access to antiretroviral and TB medications and use of malaria control strategies. On strengthening health governance in Africa, the report notes that the principles that have been fundamental to the success of the AIDS response can be leveraged for the post-2015 agenda to advance coordination, innovation and commitment.

Improving health will sustain and accelerate the continent’s economic growth and development.

Africa has the second highest rate of economic growth in the world. The region’s economy grew 5.1% in 2011, and growth is projected to accelerate to 5.8% in 2014. This economic growth could be game-changing for the continent. A stronger economy means more resources to combat diseases. And as Africa becomes healthier, even more economic growth will be possible. More people will be pulled out of poverty, and health outcomes will rise accordingly. Ultimately, economic growth can create a virtuous cycle that leads to a stronger, healthier and wealthier Africa.

The new report highlights five recommendations for a healthier Africa: unifying leadership; generating innovative financing; making smarter investments in health; strengthening human resources; and ensuring that no one is left behind. Together, these recommendations aim to leverage health as a force for economic growth and social progress across Africa.