AU Leaders: Domestic Resource Mobilization, Smart Partnerships Form Bedrock of Universal Health Coverage

By Ummuro Adano,
Regional Director, East Africa
February 12, 2019
To get better health and economic results, African leaders say, let's work together as a continent.
The global landscape of development assistance for health is rapidly changing: donor funding has plateaued, and many middle-income countries in Africa have either transitioned or are rapidly transitioning toward self-sufficiency and an end to financial backing from external donor organizations—a process that has also been called “graduation” from donor assistance.
Domestic resource mobilization, smart partnership with the private sector, and equitable financing for universal health coverage dominated the agenda of the first Africa Leadership Meeting: Investing in Health on February 9, 2019, at the 32nd Ordinary Session of the African Union Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Clearly, beyond the medium-term, African countries can’t rely on aid to fill their health spending gaps. The global aid budget isn’t growing and fluctuates depending on the changing priorities in donor countries. 
We will get better results if we work together as a continent.

If countries are to develop effective and equitable health systems, governments in the region need to raise much of the required money by expanding their own progressive tax systems, reorienting their health systems, and collaborating with the private sector and money markets.
“We will get better results if we work together as a continent, for example, to press for cheaper drug prices by negotiating and procuring as a bloc,” Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame told delegates. “We also have a lot to learn from our country-specific experiences implementing programs such as universal health insurance and community-based health care.”
Kagame, the outgoing chair of the African Union, led the meeting of 400 delegates, which included Prime Minister Erna Solberg of Norway, President Mahamadou Issoufou of Niger, President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres, World Health Organization (WHO) Director General Tedros Gebreyesus, and Bill Gates, cochair of Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.