WAHO, USAID develop framework to encourage investment in West Africa health sector

In order to encourage more investment into the health sector to offer the highest level of healthcare and protection to communities in the West African sub-region, the West African Health Organization (WAHO), in collaboration with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), have held a forum on Public Private Partnerships (PPP) in the Health Sector.

The forum held today April 24, 2017 was organized to enable the Public and Private sectors to communicate and share ideas for sustainable collaboration in the health sector.

Public Private Partnerships in health is vital because when epidemics break out in the region it often leads to restricted movement of people, goods and services. This leads to closure of businesses which goes a long way to negatively affect private enterprises. Additionally, the health sector is a client of the private sector, which supplies inputs, equipment and health technology, the organisers noted.

It is against this backdrop that the WAHO 2016-2020 Strategic Plan considered the development of a health PPP Framework Document for the ECOWAS region.

According to WAHO, PPP is one of the most appropriate means to achieving effective interventions with a common goal and within the framework of shared advantage.

At the moment, all countries have registered their health policy, medium-term health development plans and guidance for the development of a partnership framework between the private and public sector.

Additionally, countries are committed to the implementation of national policies for universal health coverage. But a study by WAHO shows that the key challenges to the development of the private sector are regulation, taxes and challenges in accessing credit.

In a speech read on his behalf by the Deputy Health Minister, Tina Mensah, Kwaku Agyemang Manu, the Minister for Health noted that health care providers have to find innovative ways to generate money including PPP arrangements as the economic challenges and burden placed on the national economy is high.

He added that, “there has been significant milestones with regards to PPP arrangements and these included, construction of health facilities, non-clinical services, arrangement with private laboratories, intramural practice and provision of equipment among others.

Adding to that, he said, the private sector enjoys some incentives from such arrangements like tax exemption for imports, dressings and medical equipment just to mention a few.

Mrs Rachel Cintron, Director of Health, USAID, West Africa noted that the forum is important given the region’s experiences during the recent Ebola outbreak, which put the spotlight on the state of national health systems in the region.

“Regional public private partnership in health is a relatively new concept, so it will require continuous engagement, long-term commitment, transparent communication, and a clear defined and agreed upon process for realization,” she added.

The forum brought together stakeholders from the private sector, technical and financial partners, Economic Communities of West African States ( ECOWAS) member countries and the media.

By Pamela Ofori-Boateng

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