The Group Chief Executive Officer AMREF Health Africa and co-chair of Universal Health Coverage (UHC) 2030 steering Committee, Dr Githinji Gitahi, has advised African countries, especially Uganda to invest in health in order to develop economically.
He stressed that investment in health comes a head of investment in infrastructure.
“Investment in health actually comes a head of investment in infrastructure because when people have invested in health, they develop the economy,” Dr Githinji said.
He made the remarks during a local and international stakeholder’s dialogue on sustaining the momentum towards universal health coverage in Africa with a focus on non-communicable diseases (NCDs) at Sheraton Hotel in Kampala on Wednesday.
The stakeholder’s forum was organized by Novartis Social Business and it attracted about 10 countries from East and Central Africa. Switzerland and Germany were also represented.
Discussing the topic, “Universal Health Coverage; Does Africa have a choice?” Dr. Githinji said equally Uganda has no choice except to invest in health and education.
Explaining the linkage between the two, he said health and education are tied because if the children are not healthy, they can’t seek education.
“Even if Uganda only invests in education, there are so many other things that can stop a child from attending school. They could have malaria, diarrhea, or lack access to menstrual hygiene and all these things interfere with education,” he noted.
He urged government to try and establish the attendance and progressive rate from primary to secondary and what interferes with it.
He, for example, cited teenage pregnancy and early child marriage as issues of health and the biggest challenges to education, which contribute to low human capital index where Uganda stands at 38%, according to the World Bank.
Head of Novartis Social Business Dr. Harald Nusser said access to health care is a fundamental human right.
Explaining the importance health plays for achieving sustainable development goals, Dr. Nusser said it treats health as a cost item and not as an investment opportunity for economic growth and prosperity.