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October 18, 2012

African Governments Urged to Increase Health Investment

by Peter Clottey

A director at the African Medical and Research Foundation (AMREF) has called on African nations to increase their investments to improve the health of their citizens.
                   
Dr. Peter Ngatia, Director of Capacity Building at the foundation, said health investments by African countries could have positive economic, social and cultural impact.

Ngatia was recently on Capitol Hill where he spoke to members of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s Annual Legislative Conference entitled ‘Africa Rising: A Continent of Opportunity.”

“I talked about health development and how health itself is a great investment,” Ngatia said. “I also talked about the relationship between good health and poverty and the vicious cycle of health-poverty, poverty-health and then looking at what is it that Africa is doing to make sure that there is good health for the population.”

He said there are indications that health care is improving in African countries.

“A lot of great things have happened in the last few years. We can see a lot the slowing of the AIDS pandemic, even for a country like Botswana it has gone down,” Ngatia said.

He said regional blocs, including the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the East African Community, have cooperated with member countries to help improve the health conditions of residents.

“Regional blocs, SADC for instance, have policies and programs in malaria and HIV that cut across those countries that make up the [organization]. In East Africa there are the Lake Victoria programs for malaria and for HIV/AIDS,” Ngatia said.

“On the continent as a whole, we have seen the heads of government coming together to discuss what they can do in terms of dealing with malaria, maternal mortality and in terms of funding for health.”

He praised the African Union’s initiative to train community health workers in rural areas on the continent.

Ngatia also said Africa needs help training more health care workers and building up the health care infrastructure.           

Ngatia added that Africa’s health and well-being has become a strategic focal point for increased American investment and interest.

AMREF is the largest African-led health development organization on the continent. With its headquarters in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, the institution provides training and public health programs in over 30 countries across Africa.
Clottey interview with Dr. Peter Ngatia, director at AMREF