PUBLIC PRIVATE PARTNERSHIPS IN HEALTH KEY TO UNLOCKING AFRICA’S POTENTIAL
6/22/2012 4:14:22 PM -
Africa can maximise its enormous potential only if it is able to overcome its major health challenges through Public Private Partnerships (PPP) in healthcare says medical experts and other stakeholders meeting at the seventh 7th West African Health Conference (WAH 2012) in Accra.
Speaking at the opening session of the WAH 2012, Project Director, West Africa Health (WAH), Dr Wale Alabi, noted that private sector-led solutions to health problems are being championed globally with glowing successes in countries that have taken the option.
He said, 'The theme of the conference, 'The emergence of public private partnership as a panacea for Health Care Development in West Africa' has become a subject of major discussions and debates among the global healthcare leaders for which Africa and West Africa must key into.'
According to him, 'mastering the PPP in health is an absolute imperative if Africa is to manage and ultimately overcome the fundamental healthcare challenges facing this vast and beautiful continent of ours.'
He said if this is achieved, it will be a comfortable stable for the continent to unlock its massive potential of achieving total development.
The West African Health (WAH) Conference is an annual healthcare and business promotion event that brings together experts in medicine and allied fields to figure out ways of fixing the missing links in the healthcare systems across the West African sub-region.
'There is no doubt that delegates will benefit tremendously from the vast knowledge and experience they will be sharing,' Dr Alabi said.
He also disclosed that The West African Health exhibition is another important part of the event that provides a platform for networking and conducting business.
Similarly, Nigeria and Ghana's health ministers have spoken of the need for private sector led businesses to take stakes in healthcare interventions across the West African sub-region.
The essence, according to the ministers, is to ensure that high quality healthcare is accessed by the people at affordable costs.
Nigeria's health minister, Prof Onyebuchi Chukwu, who spoke on the opening day of the vastly attended WAH 2012 noted that, 'The acknowledged effectiveness and efficiency of the private sector can be utilised in driving health services without leaving vulnerable groups unprotected.'
Prof Chukwu said West Africa, like other sub-regions in sub-Sahara Africa are faced with the dire situations in health, noting also that, 'The health care delivery services have not yielded expected or desired impact and results.'
Highlighting additional problems facing the sub-region, Prof Chukwu said, 'Our health sector is faced with inadequate budgetary provision to meet needs of ever growing population coupled with competing demands.'
He said, 'Governments in our sub-region like the rest of the World should begin to reduce their direct involvement in provision of social services and provide an enabling environment for the private sector engagement in the provision of more effective and efficient services.'
Speaking further on the need for Public Private Partnerships (PPP) in health, Prof Chukwu said, 'A PPP arrangement aims to harness the effectiveness and efficiency of the private sector which is mostly profit driven in providing better quality services to the public at an affordable rate.'
This, he said provides the much needed tonic for improved confidence among the people for whom the services are meant for.
On specific areas the sub-region could explore for effective PPP in health , Ghana's health minister , Mr Alban Bagbin, said, 'There is an urgent need to develop very good diagnostics system,' noting also that countries within the sub-region need to create a system for holding back professionals that are trained on health interventions.
Mr Bagbin underscored the urgent need for countries in the region to 'invest in new researches, medical and health technology, innovations and creativity.'
'It has become clear that even in the best of times, governments alone cannot meet the rising health need of the people, a reason the private sector should come in to help under a win situation,' Mr Bagbin noted.
Prof Chukwu corroborated this by saying this could be achieved if respective governments within the sub-region provide 'enabling environments and synergy that allows partners to contribute more to the good of the general public than would have been achieved individually.'
He, however, pointed out that it is important to identify areas of need in which collaborations and partnerships are desired on the long and short- term basis.
He also highlighted the need to facilitate universal access to a Minimum Health Package, capacity building across the public and private sectors in health care provisioning and creation of platforms that contribute to the sustainability of the overall health system.
On data management for PPP, Prof Chukwu said, 'Technical and economic data are critical for thorough project preparation, hence data gathering must be a continuous programme.'
The opening day of the Ghana meeting, featured discussions on the way forward for Public Private Partnership (PPP) in health with particular emphasis on how West Africa could benefit from various models that are to be showcased.
Prof Chukwu also noted that political stability, internal security, effective, organized and elaborate Health care financing system, such as universal coverage application of health insurance scheme, establishment of effective regulatory framework such as a policy document, appropriate legislation, among other factors are needed for an effective PPP in health to thrive in any country.