By Aliko Dangote, Chairman, Aliko Dangote Foundation
The impact of adequate healthcare on a strong African economy has long been a topic for debate, and an added dimension is the role the organized private sector can play to complement government efforts in providing better healthcare for all citizens across Africa.
A recent publication of the World Health Organization titled ‘The Health of the People’ focused on the health of the 738 million people living in the African Region. The report, which acknowledges that Africa confronts the world’s most dramatic public health crisis, offers hope that over time the region can address the health challenges it faces, given sufficient international support. I must add here that the best support for Africa should come from Africans themselves.
In September, on the sidelines of the 73rd United Nations General Assembly in New York, my foundation together with the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), and GBCHealth brought together African and global leaders and other personalities to discuss the continent’s health challenges and opportunities for investment. The partners also released preliminary findings from our forthcoming “Healthcare and Economic Growth in Africa” report, calling for greater African private sector involvement and investment in healthcare.
To me, business and healthcare are interwoven, and only a healthy population can ensure the best labour force to build any economy successfully. Adequate healthcare for all has led to calls for greater private sector involvement in healthcare financing, humanitarian support and philanthropy. This is also crucial for us in Nigeria and in Africa, where the Dangote Group has operations in more than 17 countries.
The main vehicle for my humanitarian interventions is the Aliko Dangote Foundation (ADF) which was incorporated in 1994 as a charity in Lagos with a mission to enhance opportunities for social change through strategic investments that improve health and wellbeing, promote quality education, and broaden economic empowerment opportunities. Our primary focus is health and nutrition, supported by interventions in education, empowerment, and humanitarian relief with a main objective to reduce the number of lives lost to malnutrition and associated diseases by combating chronic malnutrition in children in Africa.
I believe that better health for Nigerians and Africans starts with better maternal and child health, and this is why it is the key pillar of the ADF strategy. To this end, we will be looking to leverage our achievements to date from our efforts to eradicate polio and enhance routine immunization in Nigeria, through our partnership with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Federal Government of Nigeria and our State governments in Northern Nigeria, including Bauchi, Borno, Kaduna, Kano, Sokoto and Yobe.
The partnership on Polio Eradication and Routine Immunization, which also focuses on primary healthcare delivery, has been extended to run through to 2022, to provide routine immunization to prevent common childhood diseases and ensure a polio-free continent. Millions of dollars have been contributed by the Foundation to this program, as part of our commitment to better health for Nigeria and Africa.
In this spirit of collaborative public and private sector partnerships for development, my foundation, ECA, and GBCHealth will convene the Africa Business: Heath Forum 2019 on the 12th of February 2019 on the margins of the 32nd African Union Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Through the efforts of my foundation, we will continue to be part of the push to make Africa healthier and greater. This is crucial for our individual and collective growth. I want to, therefore, call on all our business, community, traditional and political leaders to work together to invest and innovate in health solutions for a prosperous Africa.