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Africa imports about 70% of its pharmaceutical needs, says Dangote, others

A new report on Healthcare and Economic Growth in Africa, jointly published by the Aliko Dangote Foundation (ADF), United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) and GBCHealth, has disclosed that Africa imports about 70 per cent of its pharmaceutical needs from outside the continent amounting to $14.5 billion, and imports substantial health services as well.

Besides, currently with a growing population of over 1.2 billion, Africa’s large and growing health market is estimated at $259 billion. The report also revealed that by 2030, Africa’s pharmaceutical imports are expected to be the second largest in the world after the US.

Just as health workers’ brain drain continues to hit the continent especially Nigeria, it is believed that Africa currently has a current health financing gap of at least $66 billion per annum.

The joint report further indicates that government expenditure on health in all but two countries (Algeria and Namibia) is less than the minimum of 5 per cent of gross domestic product, which is considered necessary for ensuring adequate health coverage for at least 90 per cent of the population.

Even as Nigeria yearly budget on health has continued to nosedive upon jumping challenges, the report averred that “On average, countries need to increase public spending on health by 2.5 per cent.”

In the same vein, the joint report further noted that total spending on healthcare in Africa remained within a narrow band of between 5 per cent and 6 per cent of GDP in the period 2000–2015 on average, although in per capita terms, it almost doubled from $150 to $292 (in constant PPP dollars) with wide variation across countries.

Only recently, a controversy surrounding medical personnel exodus for greener pastures abroad ensured but the former Minister of Labour, Dr Chirs Ngige claimed that Nigeria has more than enough medical experts.