The African Development Bank Group (AFDBG) has urged the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to tailor investments to the needs of Regional Member Countries.
Such investments, it said, should have clear focus on strengthening resilience to future health emergences and promoting sustainable and equitable health financing solutions.
Dr Akinwumi Adesina, President of AfDB, said in a Keynote at the 22 Ordinary Session of Assembly of Health Ministers of ECOWAS, on Friday in Abuja.
The Ordinary Session of West Africa Health Organization (WAHO) is an annual meeting by the 15 member states to brainstorm on health-related issues in the region and possible solutions.
The 22 session of the Assembly of Health Ministers of ECOWAS, is focused on discussing how the region can surmount future pandemics.
Adesina, who was represented by Dr. Beth Dunford, Vice President for Agriculture, Human and Social Development African Development Bank, was requested to provide the ECOWAS Health Ministers an objective economic assessment that stresses the need for renewed efforts to ending the pandemic as a path to economic recovery.
He said that the Bank would aimed to increase its investments in health infrastructure to support this strategy, using a range of instruments and involving diverse partnerships.
“The portfolio will include investment projects, results-based financing, risk-sharing instruments to leverage private sector resources, debt and equity investments in private companies, and the promotion of innovative sources of finance, such as diaspora funds.
“Filling the financing gap for health infrastructure will require mobilizing finances from the private sector, development finance institutions and diaspora groups.
“Across Africa, only 10-20%15 of investment in health service delivery infrastructure is mobilized by the private sector, due largely to high levels of investment risk.
“The limited coverage of health insurance and the dominance of out-of-pocket expenditure in health financing also make it more difficult for investors to secure a financial return.
“As a result, private sector investments in health infrastructure have been concentrated in brownfield investment to expand existing hospitals,” he explained.
He added that foundations such as the Bill and Melinda Gates were projected to play a growing role in the financing of health services in Africa, and would be key partners for the Bank.
He noted that there was also potential for mobilizing funding from diaspora communities and associations, either directly or through instruments such as diaspora bonds.
“Since the late 1980s, India has used fiscal and non-fiscal incentives to stimulate diaspora investment in health services, and nine of the top fifteen hospitals in India have been set up through such investments,” he explained.
Adesina added that the Bank was poised to play a critical role as a health infrastructure financier on the continent.
“We draw on our core expertise in infrastructure development and working with other development partners in support of national health system- strengthening plans and in support of enhancing African health system resilience.
“ Input from Ministers in the Bank’s 54 regional member countries, development partners and civil society is expected to strengthen the Bank’s Strategy for Quality Health Infrastructure in Africa,” he added.
Adesina added that the COVID-19 was a wake-up call on the central role of health systems and infrastructure for inclusive economic growth.
“The picture of pandemic impact isn’t yet fully clear, not fully quantified and is still unfolding. However, it offers hope that with increased health systems and infrastructure development, the continent may weather the storm of future pandemics.
“Let us change the narrative on the health systems in Africa. The Bank cannot do it without your ownership and support. We call upon you to validate and endorse the strategy highlighted here for the Bank to provide the much needed support to the continent in healthcare infrastructure,” he urged.
Guinea and Mali were absent at the 22nd Ordinary Session of West Africa Ministers of Health.