Leaders of the East African Community (EAC) nations continued their focus on infrastructure development and – for the first time – held a retreat on health sector financing and development, as part of a summit hosted by President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda.
The president, with his long advocacy of African cooperation and unity, welcomed guests to Kampala with praise for the fast-growing EAC economies and an appeal to meet their public health challenges.
“The EAC has witnessed a notable increase in life expectancy from 51 years in 2005 to 61 years in 2016,” he said, while yet noting the rise in non-communicable diseases including diabetes and cancer. Malaria, HIV/AIDS, and disease outbreaks like Ebola virus remain a priority, while antibiotic resistance is presenting new issues.
“We must, therefore, deliberately refocus our efforts to address these challenges through increasing investment in prevention, human and technological resources to accelerate progress towards universal coverage of essential health to the peoples of East Africa,” Museveni said.
He cited India as an example of an emerging economy whose total healthcare industry revenue is expected to increase from USD$110 billion in 2016 to USD$ 372 billion in 2022, in response to intentional investments in telemedicine and technology, manufacturing, workforce training and other initiatives.
“Besides ensuring healthy lives, we expect the health sector to contribute more significantly to the economy through creation of new jobs, proliferation of innovations, expansion of manufacturing of medicines and health technologies and medical tourism,” he said. “The sector should be a foreign exchange earner to the region.”
To review the entire communiqué from the EAC summit, including details on infrastructure, see this link.
Image: President Yoweri Museveni