President Paul Kagame has called on African Union member states to prioritize domestic health financing especially in light of the Covid-19 pandemic to improve health outcomes and resilience.
Kagame was speaking at the 34th Ordinary Session of the African Union Assembly which was held virtually, where he presented a progress report on the Institutional Reform of the African Union as well as an update on domestic health financing.
Kagame said that without strong national health systems, the continent will remain vulnerable to pandemics.
“Without strong national health systems in every country, our continent will remain vulnerable to pandemics. We need to strengthen our commitment to increase domestic resource mobilisation and improve health outcomes,” he said.
Among the steps that Kagame said ought to be actualized to improve health outcomes include strengthening of Africa Centres for Disease Control (CDC) to allow its autonomy and effectiveness.
The President proposed that the assembly considers adjustments that will drive countries’ improvement with regard to domestic health financing.
The proposals include the presentation of the data in the annual scorecard being updated to rank countries according to the World Health Organization Service Coverage Index, rather than exclusively in terms of per capita spending.
This adjustment, he noted, will allow for more accurate benchmarking of the efficiency of health spending across different contexts, while at the same tracking progress toward universal health coverage.
President Kagame also proposed that the African Union Development Agency, NEPAD be assigned the responsibility for working with partners to create regional platforms to support Member States in increasing domestic health financing.
With regard to the progress on the African Union reforms process, Kagame noted that there has been commendable progress on multiple aspects including in complex aspects.
Among the aspects where there has been progress include the institution of a merit-based and transparent selection of the Commission leadership, sustainable financing of the Union and the Peace Fund, despite the budget being dependent on external funding.
The President however noted that a number of aspects have stalled with not much progress made. These include the reform of judicial organs, the Pan-African Parliament, and the Commission structures.
“The division of labour with Regional Economic Communities is also overdue. In fact, these are the very same items I highlighted at last year’s summit. This delay represents a disappointing shortcoming in our working methods,” he said.
With the forensic audit of the commission complete, the Head of State called for it to be acted upon without further delay as accountability is essential for our Union’s credibility.
“I ask the incoming Commission to give priority attention to these items, so that they are completed this year, without fail. Indeed, I believe that implementation of the institutional reform mandate can be completed by the next Summit,” he noted.
At the summit, South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa handed over the chairperson mantle to President Félix Tshisekedi of DR Congo.
Kagame thanked the outgoing Ramaphosa for leadership through what was a hard year and promised the incoming chairperson continued support.