Elumelu Expresses Concern over Africa’s Limited Budget for Healthcare Infrastructure

Gilbert Ekeugbe

The Chairman of United Bank for Africa Plc and Founder, The Tony Elumelu Foundation, Mr Tony Elumelu, has expressed worries over the limited budget and poor health care infrastructure on the continent.

Speaking yesterday at the Abu Dhabi Health Forum in Abu Dhabi, United Ara Emirates (UAE), he stressed the need for African governments to work innovatively across social sectors to achieve results, lamenting that a high percent of health care facilities in Africa do not have reliable power supply.

According to him, during the COVID-19 pandemic, lack of adequate power supply was a major problem as isolation wards had no power, saying that it was also a challenge to store vaccines sent to the continent.

“The global renewable energy sector, both thermal and hydro energy sectors should step in to address this massive energy deficiency in Africa to realize health outcomes in Africa,” he advised.

Speaking on climate change and healthcare delivery, he called for investment in renewable energy and the need to unlock climate funding for healthcare delivery, “particularly on the margins where climate change is leading to new diseases, or diseases appearing in places they were not seen before.

 “As healthcare issues are becoming more severe due to climate change, how can climate funds be accessed to address health care as well? With private sector innovation, startup funding from foundations and financial institutions, health care policies from national and global health systems, investments from all as well as cross sector collaboration, we can definitely move humanity forward,” he urged.

He pointed out that big pharmaceutical companies also have a role to play to ensure a sustainable health future for all.

“It is not just early-stage entrepreneurs and companies that make a difference. Big pharmaceutical firms also have a role to play here. There also needs to be incentives for big pharma to partner on R&D for diseases from lower income countries. Incentives for investing in R&D and manufacturing facilities for big pharma in developing countries is also important, so leveraging the global trade system is also an important element of global health equality,” he averred.

On global health equity and implications for health outcomes, he said developed economies have significant imbalances in quality of health outcomes, excessive investments in R&D in pharma, medical devices and practices for health conditions in rich countries, while poor countries miss out. 

“But the quality of healthcare in the world’s poorest countries, can have an impact on the richest countries —the world is interconnected, and climate change is making transmission happen faster. Covid-19 started in China and quickly spread to all parts of the world. The lesson here is that we should be interested in global health equity and not just national heath because poor health outcomes affect all everywhere,” he noted.

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