ECA, ABCHealth partner for health initiatives in Africa

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ADDIS ABABA, ETHIOPIA - APRIL 10: Vera Songwe, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) makes a speech during a commemoration ceremony for the 21 UN employees, who lost their lives in the plane crash in Ethiopia on March 10, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on April 10, 2019. (Photo by Minasse Wondimu Hailu/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

The UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) on Tuesday said it had signed a partnership on initiatives to improve Africa’s health sector with the African Business Coalition for Health (ABCHealth).

FILE PHOTO: Vera Songwe, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) makes a speech during a past event. (Photo by Minasse Wondimu Hailu/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

The initiatives include the Healthcare and Economic Growth in Africa (HEGA 2) report, and the West Africa AfCFTA-anchored Pharma Initiative, a blueprint for the local production of drugs and medical equipment across West Africa sub-region, according to the ECA statement.

The HEGA 2 is a follow-up to the HEGA 1 report which has analyzed a strategic direction for African countries to better engage with the private health sector to accelerate improvements in health.

Having examined Africa’s healthcare challenges and highlighted opportunities for the private sector, the first report was launched in February 2019 on the margins of the 32nd AU summit in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa.

The second edition aims to leverage innovation and extend the focus on building resilient national health systems in a post-COVID-19 era, according to the ECA statement.

The West Africa AfCFTA-anchored Pharma Initiative focuses on strengthening the supply side of the sub-region’s health sector by mobilizing investment and capital to develop domestic production of internationally accepted standards and quality.

Regarding the partnership, Aliko Dangote, co-founder of ABCHealth, noted that “With the coalition that ABCHealth is building across the continent, responsible business leaders and philanthropists will have a platform that enables them make sustainable, large scale investments in health that transform African economies and people.”

“Investing in health is not just a social good, it also makes a good business case. The AfCFTA-anchored Pharma Initiative represents lucrative private sector investment and innovation opportunities that will change lives, reduce poverty and contribute to Africa’s inclusive and sustainable economic development,” Vera Songwe, ECA Executive Secretary, said.

Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede, ABCHealth Chairman, expressed his confidence in the positive impact that the partnership would have on the continent’s health sector.

“It is our firm belief that with the public and private sectors working together, combining political will with business knowledge, Africa’s health sector can be built to the point where it will deliver affordable health to Africans in an equitable manner,” the chairman noted.

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, business opportunities in the healthcare and wellness sector in Africa were estimated to be 259 billion U.S. dollars by the year 2030, with the potential to create 16 million jobs, according to ECA.

The pharmaceutical industry alone was estimated to be 60 billion dollars in 2020 and is still growing.

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