African Ministers seek greater partnership with India to enhance cancer diagnosis, check high disease burden

30/05/2017
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Worried about the continent’s poor health indices, African countries are seeking greater partnership with India.

The continent’s Ministers of Finance and Health, who are leading this drive, are seeking the scaling up of their bilateral cooperations with India for the improvement of healthcare for the African people. In the spirit of South-South cooperation, they are seeking to explore India’s leading role for more significant investment opportunities for both sides.

The Ministers spoke on Thursday, May 25 at a session on “Africa-India Cooperation on Partnerships in Healthcare”, at the 52nd African Development Bank (AfDB) Annual Meetings in India.

African Health Ministers, private healthcare investors and suppliers of medical equipment, Governors of Central Banks and development specialists from both Africa and India attended the session to discuss collaboration in the respective medical fields, including improving medical field services.

“India is seen as a reliable partner. We in Zambia rely on India for our medical supplies. We look forward to enhancing our cooperation in order to effectively reduce our high disease burden. We also look forward to our cooperation in the fields of medical training, hospital equipment supplies and enhancing the transport systems within our medical services field,” said Jacob Lushanga, Managing Director of the Development Bank of Zambia.

The African healthcare providers and representatives of government also sought the assistance of the Indian Government in improving the management of healthcare facilities and investments in financing of the medical sector.

“We negotiated a partnership agreement with India in areas, which take advantage of India’s advancement and sophistication in medical training services and education,” said Martin Dlamini, Finance Minister for the Kingdom of Swaziland.

The Minister identified the need to improve the supplies of medical equipment, hospital management and rationalization of medical staff in order to improve the management of healthcare services, especially cancer, which is responsible for 60 percent of the country’s disease burden.

African Ministers noted how the cost of diagnosing cancer and other critical diseases affect the majority of the African population remained high, thereby affecting the distribution of economic resources in Africa.

They called upon the Indian Government to consider providing experts on short-term measures to provide training to medical students.

To advance its cooperation with African countries, the Indian Government announced it had signed agreements with Burundi, Egypt, Mozambique, Tanzania and the Seychelles to cooperate on the management and administration of drugs, diagnostics, traditional medicine and surgeries.

Indian Minister of State for Finance and Corporate Affairs Arjun Ram Meghwal said his country had also provided credit lines to African countries as part of measures to accelerate the cooperation.

Meghwal called for formal avenues for handling the main healthcare crises  affecting Africa – a continent which, he said, has 17 percent of the world’s population, but accounts for 24 percent of the disease burden worldwide.