West African bloc seeks private sector support for health sector
The West African bloc is seeking to strengthen the role of the private sector in health service delivery in the sub-region as financing sources become increasingly difficult, Dr. Xavier Crespin, Director General of the West African Health Organization (WAHO), disclosed here on Monday.
He explained that, for the sub-region to be able to attain its health targets, both public and private sector support would be critical in financing the health delivery needs of the countries.
Dr. Crespin emphasized this during the opening of a day’s sub-regional meeting for both public and private sectors organized by WAHO here to develop a strategic framework for Public-Private Partnership (PPP) in the health sector.
“We cannot really continue to do ‘Business as Usual’. It is very important now that we recognize the place of private sector and to work with the private sector in our region. For the whole region, from our assessment, none of our countries has reached the Abuja declaration which is 15 percent of the local budget dedicated to the health sector,” he disclosed.
According to Dr. Crespin, an assessment carried out by WAHO revealed challenges in the health sector such as human resources development; pharmaceutical issues with the local production of medicine; the fight against some of the diseases in which more health workers are needed; material equipment in the health facilities; as well as construction of health facilities.
He brought to the fore the key involvement of the private sector in the sector, adding that there was yet no communication between the private and public health.
“This is why at our level at WAHO we decided to have this first forum on health issues in the ECOWAS Region.
“And health financing is not only about public financing. It is also about how we can bring all the private people. This is why we want to have a better Private-Public-Partnership in our countries,” he added.
The meeting had representatives from all West African countries, as well as multilateral organizations led by the USAID and private sector institutions in the sub-region.
Opening the meeting, Deputy Minister for Health for Ghana, Tina Mensah, said government had identified and was working with the private sector in the area of health service delivery.
She said as support from Development Partners dwindled and in the face of large wage bills in public sectors, Public-Private Partnership (PPP) was the most important step to take.
She explained that government had earmarked some incentive packages for non-health institutions which would invest in the sector.
“These incentives include on-site screening programs for such institutions; regular employee education programs; corporate wellness programs; high visibility of brand to clients who visit public health facilities and brand endorsement by Ministry of Health as a strategic partner after successful evaluation.