With a population of over 1.2 billion, Africa’s large and growing health market is estimated at $259 billion, and in 2030, it is expected to be the second largest in the world after the US, according to a new report.
The report, Healthcare and Economic Growth in Africa, jointly published by the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), GBCHealth, and the Aliko Dangote Foundation (ADF), also found that Africa imports about 70 per cent of its pharmaceutical needs from outside the continent amounting to $14.5 billion, and imports substantial health services as well.
The continent has a current health financing gap of at least $66 billion per annum.
The report indicates that government expenditure on health in all but two countries (Algeria and Namibia) is less than the minimum of 5 per cent of gross domestic product, which is considered necessary for ensuring adequate health coverage for at least 90 per cent of the population.
“On average, countries need to increase public spending on health by 2.5 per cent,” the report said.
It notes further that total spending on healthcare in Africa remained within a narrow band of between 5 per cent and 6 per cent of GDP in the period 2000–2015 on average, although in per capita terms, it almost doubled from $150 to $292 (in constant PPP dollars) with wide variation across countries.
The report therefore suggests that the recently signed African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) provides a critical and promising market for the engagement of the private sector.
The involvement of the private healthcare sector, the authors of the report believe can boost intra-African trade on pharmaceuticals, health services, achieve economies of scale in health infrastructure, expand employment opportunities and deepen regional integration.
By Emmanuel K. Dogbevi
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