Dr. Matsidiso Rebecca Moeti, World Health Organization (WHO) Africa Regional Director has asked African countries to see Universal Health Coverage (UHC) as good economic investment.
This is because, “healthier populations drive economic growth, development and prosperity, improved health security, reduced poverty and better gender equity”, she said.
Dr Moeti said this in an address read on her behalf at the third University of Health and Allied Sciences (UHAS) Leadership Lecture Series in memory of Professor John Evans Atta Mills in Ho.
The Lecture was on the theme, “Transform health and accelerate sustainable development in Africa: Addressing Universal Health Coverage through Regional and Global Transformation”.
She noted that though health expenditure in Africa went up over the past two decades, the achievement was mainly due to external aids and challenged the continent to take responsibility of the health of its citizens.
Dr. Moeti asked leaders of the continent to address “critical gaps” of service provision capacity and quality of care to break barriers to UHC.
She said “health protection is still low across Africa-11 million Africans fall into poverty due to high out-of-pocket health payments every year,” and “ health system preparedness for public health emergencies is still in its infancy,” begging for investments.
Dr. Moeti said UHC was linked to the Sustainable Development Goals and called for compulsory public financing mechanisms, such as tax financing and social insurance to use UHC as pathway to achieving SDG three and others.
She said with strong commitment to UHC and the SDGs, WHO was strengthening its role as a primary leader in health development in Africa and globally embarking on a “bold new” plan of action focused on one billion more people being better protected from health emergencies, one billion more people benefiting from UHC and one billion more people enjoying better health and wellbeing among others.
Dr. Moeti called for all hands on deck and said Africa was on the “right path to a brighter, healthier and more prosperous future”.
The lecture coincided with the University’s special congregation, which conferred honourary doctorate degree of science on Dr. Moeti, Dr. Moses Adibo and Mr Kofi Nsiah-Poku for their contributions to healthcare delivery.
Professor John Owusu Gyapong, Vice Chancellor, UHAS, said the lecture series were to inculcate the spirit of leadership in staff and students and celebrate individuals who impacted society.