The government has been urged to place health at the heart of economic and national development agendas.
An Associate Professor and Health Economist at the School of Public Health, University of Ghana, Legon, Justice Nonvignon, who made the call, explained that health was not merely a social good.
“It is an investment with quantifiable returns. When we take ownership of health, it reduces donor reliance. It is crucial that Africa takes charge of her health and prioritizes it, we need to rethink and boldly act,” he said.
Prof. Nonvignon, who is the first Professor of Health Economics at a University in Ghana, was speaking at his inaugural lecture with the title: “The Pursuit of Health amid Scarcity: Economics, Health and the Romance in-between”
He said there was an urgent need to find an innovative way to finance Africa’s health from domestic resources, stressing that, “health is our healthline”.
“Let’s take bold, innovative, and collective action to raise domestic resources for health. We must help ourselves, relying on what is outside cannot solve all of our problems,” he said.
Nonetheless, he said, generating resources in-house would be tough for policymakers stressing that it had to be done to help finance development.
“But if we can be bold and raise between $1 and $5 depending on origin and destination, on airline taxes, in five years, Africa can raise over $2 billion. This should be enough to finance some of our critical health problems,” he said.
Prof. Nonvignon, also the Associate Editor for BMC Health Services Research, noted that one of the major obstacles the health sector was facing in terms of financing was the debt crisis.
“The burden of interest payment, we spend more money annually servicing debts than spending on critical investments such as health. We honor debts and their obligations, over social spending, and often, it is health that suffers. This jeopardizes prosperity for humans and plants,” he said.
Furthermore, Professor Nonvignon said although the government proposed expenditure on health had increased over the years, what was promised in the budget often never got released.