EAC Health Summit

East Africa Community Holds It’s 1ST Summit on investment in Health Sector

The East Africa Community held the 1st summit on investment on Health Sector in Kampala Uganda on the 21st February 2018, followed by Heads of state retreat on 22nd February 2018, which aimed at accelerating attainment of the objectives of the EAC development strategy, agenda 2063 and the sustainable development goals in the infrastructure and health sector.

The Summit discussed the Health Sector Investment Priority Framework (2018 – 2028) that was the product of a process of ministerial consensus. From the summit introduction by ministries of health in east africa countries, The hosting Minister, Hon Sarah Opendi, the State Minister of Health for General Duties, spoke of the importance of collaboration and shared commitments to achieve the ambitious targets in relation to HIV Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria in the region. There is a historical view of treating health like a social goal, but it is an economic goal and therefore deliberate efforts must be made to improve quality and efficiency under the overarching goal to progressively attain universal health coverage.

The Cabinet Secretary for Health from Kenya, Hon. Sicily K. Kariuki highlighted the government’s commitment to scale up universal health coverage in Kenya during the term of the President (2018 – 2222) and beyond. She highlighted the opportunities in the health sector created by this vision ranging from technology to local manufacturing. The CS reminded attendees about importance of the health sector for the economy. Not only does the health sector affects all sectors by ensuring that there is a healthy workforce, the health sector can also attract local, regional and international investors to Kenya and the region. Hon Patrick Ndimubanzi, the State Minister of Public and Primary Healthcare of Rwanda touched on the importance of quality human resources for health and quality medicines and supply chain. Given the triple burden of diseases, Hon Ndimubanzi stated that the region would have to collaborate with the private sector to attain the region’s goals.

Hon Ummy Mwalimu, the Minister of Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children of Tanzania highlighted that maternal mortality rates remain unacceptably high in the region. Dr. Riek Gai Kok, the Minister of Health of South Sudan reminded the attendees that South Sudan was a young country which required additional support to be able to attain any of the goals set out in the priority framework.

The EAC Head of States Retreat

The East African Community Heads of State, their Excellences’ President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni of the Republic of Uganda, President Uhuru Kenyatta of the Republic of Kenya, President Salva Kiir Mayardit of the Republic of South Sudan, President Dr. John Magufuli of the United Republic of Tanzania, First Vice President Gaston Sindimwo of the Republic of Burundi, Hon. James Musoni and Minister of Infrastructure Republic of Rwanda representing President Paul Kagame held the Joint EAC Heads of State Retreat on Infrastructure and Health Financing and Development.

This was the first time, regional health sector priorities were discussed. The Framework is aligned with the E.A Vision 2040, the Sustainable Development Goals and AU 2063 commitments in relation to innovation, medical tourism, job creation, innovation and improved GDP through health investments. Dr. Delanyo Dovlo (World Health Organization) recognized the imminent need for these discussions since the cost of ill health is USD 2.5 trillion in East Africa in terms of loss of productivity. This can be cut by half if the SDGs are met.

Dr. Amit N. Thakker (chairman Kenyan Healthcare Federation), addressed the EA Presidents to show areas where private sector investments could accelerate realization of the priorities. He showed that a mix of infrastructure and workforce investments are required to reach the regional goals. Dr. Thakker stressed that universal health coverage should not be narrowed to insurance as this would exclude opportunities to include innovate medical plans such as risk pooling. A case study of the Health Act 2017 and medical plans in Kenya was used to illustrate what can be implemented to create an enabling environment for private sector engagement.

He recognized the imminent need to deal with bureaucracy to remove impediments to trade. His Excellency, President Museveni acknowledged that private sector involvement is increasingly important as the middle class continues to grow in the region. The Framework discussed and assented at the EAC Health Summit and Head of States Retreat show the political will to include the private sector in efforts to advance the regional health sector. A greater understanding of the priorities set out in the framework will allow Kenya Healthcare Members to align with the regional health policies

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