OPINION: Africa: The Economics of Pro-Poor Health Policy

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

The Southern African Development Community (SADC) can learn from the difficulties faced by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in curtailing the spread of Ebola.

The Ebola epidemic has highlighted the need for regional access to medicines in West Africa. Creating a uniform market and a specific pro-poor focus for access to medicines would benefit both patients and the healthcare system in the SADC region.

The capacity to regulate this sector in SADC faces a number of challenges. There is limited scope for growth of a local pharmaceutical production sector, considering India’s dominance of generic manufacturing. African industries are challenged by the presence of imported generics. Indian pharmaceuticals are subsidised and are cheaper to import.

Considering the disease burden, the skewed burden of care, and the lack of resources in the region, a pro-poor regional focus on pharmaceuticals is needed in SADC. In this context, pro-poor policies should be understood as national strategies aimed at stimulating economic growth for the specific benefit of poor people. Facilitated access to medicines will relieve overburdened healthcare systems and patients who are unable to afford the costs of private healthcare.

Source: allAfrica (link opens in a new window)

Health Care