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Global partnerships will help defeat Africa’s biggest infectious diseases, Marrakech seminar hears

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Health financing, with focus on national funding, was at the centre stage of the African Development Forum, which opened Monday, October 13 in Marrakech.

Participants at the Forum heard optimistic messages at a seminar themed: “A new paradigm in health financing – The importance of national funding.”

The panelists recognized health as wealth and emphasized the need for huge investment in it. With economic growth, African countries have a real opportunity to invest more in health. “It is essential that health expenditures keep pace with economic growth, as this would translate into even higher economic growth and development,” the seminar heard.

The UNAIDS Executive Director, Michel Sidibé, said now is the time for the world to defeat Africa’s biggest infectious diseases – Ebola, AIDS and malaria. Through global partnerships, unprecedented amounts of funding have been raised and contributed, leading to significant progress against diseases.

The Ebola crisis, Sidibé said, has exposed the structural weakness of Africa’s health systems, putting in jeopardy the continent’s development progress over the last decade.
He recalled that the African Development Bank has been the first development organisation to disburse funds, with a multifold response (quick disbursement mechanisms, emergency assistance worth $60 million and $150 million to address the structural problems – already disbursed). Sidibé called for hope in the continent’s future. “Africa is in transition,” he said.

Other panelists couldn’t agree more. Abdalla Hamdok, Deputy Executive Secretary, United Nations Economic Comission for Africa, said: “Health is at the heart of development.” He stressed accountability and responsibility in national health financing, and insisted that policies should address research as a public goods. “Research has to be context-driven if the continent would expect positive outcomes in the area of health financing for Africa’s transformation,” Hamdok explained.

The seminar noted that it is critical for the continent to increase domestic financing and called for political will from African governments.

For her part, AfDB Human Development Director Agnès Soucat said at the sidelines of the meeting that “It is now essential for us to place ‘man’ at the heart of our development policies to ensure sustainable development and prosperity for all.”

The Forum is a flagship biennial event of the UN Economic Commission for Africa, and offers a multi-stakeholder platform for debating, discussing and initiating concrete strategies for Africa’s development. The Forum is convened in collaboration with the African Union Commission, the African Development Bank and other key partners with a view to establishing an African-driven development agenda that reflects consensus and leads to specific programmes for implementation.

The 9th meeting brought together economists and health specialists, representatives of NGOs and the media.

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