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Financing healthcare in Africa: challenges and opportunities

Many African countries are increasingly able, and expected to be more so over time, to generate resources for health services out of domestically generated tax revenue. But this is not guaranteed. Managing increasing fiscal space within an expanding framework of development goals, coupled with aggregate budget balances, better control and direction, and effectiveness of revenue collection and expenditure will need to guide the agendas of African Ministries of Finance.

Africa is also on the move epidemiologically speaking. There has been a strong improvement in health outcomes especially for common communicable, maternal and childhood diseases over the last 20 years, even if many of these conditions are still top contributors to disease burden across the continent. Especially malaria and HIV/AIDS continue to be substantial causes of morbidity and mortality in some parts of the continent. At the same time, many countries experience an increase in disease burden due to non-communicable diseases and injuries. Developing flexible, adequately resourced, health systems that can effectively address this double burden of disease is what defines Ministries’ of Health current challenges.[1]

With the recent Ebola epidemic, mainly in the three West African countries (Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea), resulting in more than 11,300 deaths and the occurrence of new infections, the stark reality of underinvestment and inefficiencies in the health sector takes on a greater urgency.

Against this backdrop, the Collaborative Africa Budget Reform Initiative (CABRI), in conjunction with the United Republic of Tanzania, Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development, World Health Organisation, and Global Fund will host a conference on financing healthcare in Africa on 30 November and 1 December 2015. The conference will take place in Dar es Salaam and will be attended by health and finance officials from 16 African governments, development partners, and industry experts.

CABRI is a peer learning and exchange network of senior budget and public debt managers working in ministries of finance and planning across Africa in their efforts to build robust finance systems through:

Strengthening the organisational, implementation and analytical capabilities of finance ministries in order to improve budget credibility;
Developing value-for-money tools to guide budget allocation and implementation processes, and support the design of appropriate and sustainable fiscal policies;
Maximising budget transparency and accountability throughout the PFM cycle.

More recently, and with the kind support of the National Treasury of the Republic of South Africa, CABRI has added public debt management and domestic bond market promotion as an area of work.

For more information on the conference, and CABRI in general, please contact Dr. Nana Boateng (nana.boateng@cabri-sbo.org) or Mrs. Anke Barnard (anke.barnard@cabri-sbo.org).

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