Why Are Impact Investors Ignoring African Healthcare?
By Ben Payton
Children in Africa are 14 times more likely to die before their fifth birthday than children in Europe or North America. There are 2.3 doctors per 10,000 people in Africa, compared to 39.4 in Europe. Africa accounts for 96% of global deaths from malaria and 61% of deaths from AIDS.
These statistics, and countless others, clearly illustrate the urgent need for investment in Africa’s health systems. Indeed, the Sustainable Development Goals contain multiple targets that enshrine the collective responsibility to tackle the world’s most pressing health challenges by 2030. Yet, according to figures produced by the Health Finance Coalition, only 1% of global health funding is spent in Africa – meaning the continent faces an annual shortfall of more than $200bn.
While a large part of the solution to the funding shortfall for health in Africa must come from governments, the need to support the private sector – which largely consists of thousands of small-scale clinics and pharmacies – cannot be overlooked. John Fairhurst, head of private sector engagement at the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, says that 50-60% of initial malaria care is delivered by the private sector. “People tend to go to private sector pharmacies or clinics to get tested, even to get the first dose of treatment,” he says.
Photo courtesy of Health Policy Plus.