Healthcare systems across the world are under severe stress with the outbreak of COVID-19. Africa’s healthcare system has been fragile, even before the pandemic, along with an additional burdened of higher number of cases in HIV, malaria, diabetes, hypertension and malnourishment, among others.
According to Global Health Security Index, which assesses a country’s health system capabilities, 33 out of 54 ranked African countries are rated as least prepared to deal with epidemic threats, which have international implications.
Estimates suggest that Africa’s health financing gap is as high as US$ 66 billion per annum, indicating that the conventional source of financing healthcare, viz. government financing and donor funding are inadequate. A more holistic approach is thus required to transform the risks of demographic and disease burdens into a demographic dividend.
Improving access to equitable healthcare will require multisectoral interventions. Cooperation and participation of all stakeholders, including governments, private sector along with the international community and regional development institutions, will be required to build capacities of national health systems.
India’s expertise in modern and traditional medicines, has been the focus of its partnership in healthcare, particularly in Africa. In fact, the good share of African medical tourists in India, is indicative of the Brand image of Indian Healthcare.
India attracts nearly 50,000 medical tourists from Africa annually. The recent international air travel bans have made it increasingly difficult for medical tourists to avail such health services. Investments by Indian healthcare players can cater to a portion of this client base, apart from catering to the rest of the population of the region.
Exim Bank’s preliminary study estimates that presently the Indian healthcare sector can significantly benefit from an investment of at least five hospitals in Africa with a capacity of hundred bed each. These could be spread across the five regions of the continent – North, East, Central, West and Southern Africa.
India needs to realign its foreign policy with Africa, in line with such evolving needs, and must explore investment opportunities in the development of facilities in Africa’s health sector and support African economies achieve their Sustainable Development Goals, mainly Universal Health Coverage (UHC), and Africa's Agenda 2063.
These improvements need to be through a mix of measures including government participation, public-private partnership, joint ventures and foreign direct investments (FDI).
These suggestions were discussed today at a webinar on “India-Africa Dialogue: Prospects in Healthcare”. The webinar was attended by several dignitaries including Mr. Gulshan Ramrekha, Deputy Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Health and Wellness, who read the message of His Excellency, Dr. Kailesh Kumar Jagutpal Hon’ble Minister of Health and Wellness, the Republic of Mauritius’. Shri. Rahul Chhabra, Secretary (ER), Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India was the Chief Guest at this event. The session focusing on the regional hubs in Africa had dignitaries like H.E. Mr. Mohammed Maliki, Ambassador of the Kingdom of Morocco to India; H.E. Mr. Gilbert Shimane Mangole, High Commissioner of the Republic of Botswana; Mr. G. V. Srinivas, Ambassador of India to Senegal (concurrently accredited to The Gambia, Guinea Bissau and Cabo Verde); and Mr. A. Ajay Kumar, High Commissioner of India to Uganda (concurrently accredited to Burundi). The experience sharing session by the Indian private sector that is instrumental in shaping India’s developmental role in this direction, included Dr. Devi Prasad Shetty, Chairman, Narayana Health; Mr. K B George, Chairman and Managing Director, HLL Lifecare Ltd.; Dr. K. Hari Prasad, President of Hospital Division, Apollo Hospitals; and Mr. V. Sukumar Hebbar, Vice President & Head, L&T Construction, Larsen & Toubro Ltd.
The Webinar covered three key aspects of healthcare: healthcare infrastructure, healthcare facilities and training and capacity building. The discussions during the webinar highlighted the need for a three-pronged strategy to increase cooperation in building core healthcare infrastructure. These include cooperation through GOI-supported Lines of Credit (LOCs) to African nations and engagements through the public-private partnerships (PPP) mode; cooperation in capacity building and training of medical personnel; and setting up regional hubs across Africa to provide tertiary and quaternary care.
For further information, please contact
Mr. David Sinate
Chief General Manager
Research & Analysis Group
Export Import Bank of India
Centre One Building, Floor 21
World Trade Centre Complex
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Telephone: 91-22-2217 2701
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