African governments urged to own healthcare financing

Business News of Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Source: thebftonline.com

2017-12-13

Members of the Health Federation of Ghana

The Healthcare Federation of Ghana (HFG) has been launched with a call on African governments to move away from ‘donorship to ownership’ in healthcare financing to help deepen access to healthcare services for underserved communities.

“Donor funding is supporting significant operations of the healthcare sector in Africa, including research budgets of up to 75 percent. This must stop. We need to move to finding resources ourselves. We need to be self-reliant through the private sector.

“Improving quality of healthcare through financing must be a key focus area for African governments. Without investment, quality is not possible,” Dr. Amit Thakker, Chairman of Africa Healthcare Federation, told government officials, officials from the diplomatic community, healthcare providers and stakeholders.

Dr. Thakker explained that donor agencies play a key part in this aspect of healthcare in Africa. However, it is essential that donors offering financing do not skew the market and negatively affect local banks. Instead, bringing in local financial institutions and convincing them of the economic benefit of healthcare investment is a more sustainable and impactful way of improving access to financing for healthcare organisations.

Outlining some of the major challenges facing the healthcare sector, Dr. Thakker said the human resource deficits, donor dependency, lack of efficiency within the sector, and the proliferation of substandard or fake medication in Ghana need to be dealt with to facilitate better healthcare delivery.

Minister for Health, Kweku Agyemang Manu, whose speech was read on his behalf, said, government continues to seek innovative ways of engaging and partnering the private sector.

“As we strive toward attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals, we continue to emphasise the important role of partnering with the private sector to ensure that there is unison in our actions and efficiency in the delivery of interventions.”

He stated that the health sector has undergone several reforms with emphasis on the way health services are planned and funded, and partnership involvement in health care delivery and implementation.

This, he said, has provided opportunities for greater policy coherence, domestic resource mobilisation and attainment of health goals.

Collaboration with the private sector and support of private initiatives in the health sector have also been recognised as a key strategy for improving access to quality health services.

“I must re-emphasise that as a ministry we see the private sector as complementary and not competitive to the public health sector, hence we are committed to expanding the scope of our engagements and fostering greater collaboration toward ensuring a healthy and wealthy nation,” he said.

Dr. Gilbert Buckle, Chairman of Healthcare Federation, indicated that the Federation is made up of healthcare industry players, providers inputs and services support the delivery of preventive, promotive, curative, rehabilitative and palliative healthcare services which have been long overdue.

“We have issues that need to be articulated and policies to be reviewed. Also, space must be given to the healthcare industry to grow…the federation is long overdue, and even for us there is an urgency to get our act together and engage in a constructive way with government to improve healthcare output,” he said.

Dr. Buckle said there are issues that need to be addressed in the area of access to care, reducing the cost of care and improving the quality of healthcare provided, since healthcare is all about private sector organisations that want to support delivery of high-quality healthcare.

Dr. Buckle noted that some corporate members of the Federation have advocated removal of taxes from some pharmaceutical inputs, which when heeded would make products produced locally more cheap and accessible to patients.

Objectives of the Federation

The HGF has its membership drawn from private institutions operating within the healthcare industry – ranging from pharmaceutical companies, hospitals, insurers to even firms engaged in providing healthcare infrastructure.

Its objective among other things is to promote and enhance affordable and accessible quality medical care in Ghana, and also to provide a forum for consultation and promoting the health sector’s interests among medical professional associations, healthcare organisations, hospitals, pharmaceuticals manufacturers and distributors, medical scheme providers, insurers, health maintenance organisations, government and its representatives, and relevant ministries, department and agencies to promote the health sector’s interests.

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