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Investing in Health in Africa: Challenges and Opportunities

On the margins of TICAD8, the Ministry of Health organized a seminar on Saturday August 27th 2022, titled “Investing in Africa’s Health, Challenges and Opportunities”. The seminar was an opportunity to showcase Tunisia’s competitiveness, notably in the pharmaceutical industry, medical care services and training. Additionally, it was an opportunity to present joint investment opportunities with Japan and Africa.

The President of the Association of Private Clinics, Mr Boubaker ZAKHAMA, stressed that investing in the health sector is an emergency and an obligation. He also acknowledged that this investment needs to fulfill a set of requirements.

First, there must be a well-adapted environment, qualified human resources and well-performing healthcare facilities which must be part of a reliable quality management system. Efficient and varied funding lines that ensure a continuous improvement of services are also needed.

Dr. Zakhama also emphasized Tunisia’s considerable assets: its geographical position, which makes it a gateway to Africa, its qualified human resources, its developed infrastructure, its advantageous legal and regulatory framework and its favorable national policy. Not to mention its good control of the value chain.

In addition, Dr. Zakhama noted that the investment opportunities remain enormous: The healthcare conditions in Africa are unfortunately still difficult, stating for example that the infant mortality rate is sometimes 10 times higher than international averages. Moreover, according to the available statistics, funds allocated to the health sector are sometimes as small as 1% of the overall national budget in African countries. Hence the need for more investment in the healthcare sector.

Dr. Zakhama also highlighted the Japanese commitment to improving healthcare conditions in Africa through knowledge transfer. However, he also acknowledged that several obstacles hinder the growth of investment: lack of funding, the complexity of certain issues such as health visas, and the limited number of air links with the target countries.

In this regard, Dr. Tahar Enneifar, President of the National Federation of Health, noted that despite its achievements, Tunisia must further develop certain features, especially its attractiveness and accessibility through the generalization of electronic visas.

Mr. Ghazi MEJBRI, SMEDI CEO and president of the Association of Companies supporting medical services, stated that it is necessary that investments target priority sectors, such at home care, and the multiplication of diagnostic and care centres.