February 23rd, 2017
Amref Health Africa today hosted a regional pre-conference event to showcase the strategic areas it will focus on implementing the United Nations-backed Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The Nairobi-based health NGO, which is the only indigenous international health NGO headquartered in Africa, will concentrate its efforts on four of the 17 core SDGs: nutrition and food security (SDG 2); health (SDG 3); gender equality (SDG 5); and access to safe water and sanitation (SDG6).
“Our focus is on the four core areas, but we need to leverage on partnerships to get the job done. Partnerships are envisaged under SDG 17” said Dr. Githinji Gitahi, Group CEO of Amref Health Africa.
Dr Gitahi was speaking as he moderated a high-level panel discussion on implementation of the health-related SDGs in Africa. Panelists included, Brigdet Wachira, General Manager of GlaxoSmithKline Kenya, World Health Organization representative in Kenya and senior government officials from Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania.
“Health spending accounted for 5.1 per cent of Kenya’s national budget in 2001/02. This increased to 6.8 per cent in 2013,” said Elkana Ong’uti, Chief Economist at Ministry of Health, Kenya. However, the current spending significantly undershoots the recommended 15 per cent of GDP for health spending in Africa as stipulated under Abuja declaration.
This signals the need for partnerships with private sector to plug the funding gap. The Kenyan Constitution provides policy framework for partnerships through the public private partnership act.
“Private sector needs to understand how to do well for society while doing good for shareholders. It needs to start embedding SDGs into their business plans,” said Dr Githinji.
Industrialist, Dr Manu Chandaria, who was present at the meeting, stressed the importance of partnerships that can drive knowledge transfer to ensure that the locals on the ground understand the SDGs. “We should change our approach so that local populations own the agenda,” said Dr Chandaria.
Besides showcasing opportunities for partnership, the event acted as a curtain raiser for the Africa Health Agenda International Conference slated for March 7-9, 2017 that will bring together global participants to discuss a wide range of health issues, key among them the implementation of the SDGs through partnerships and integration of community health workers into the formal health system.
SDGs are a set of 17 aspirational “global goals” with 169 targets accepted unanimously by world leaders in September 2015 that will set the tone for the global development agenda over the next 15 years through to 2030. They succeeded the eight Millennium Development Goals which ran from 2000 to 2015.
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