COVID-19: African Parliamentarians call for increased health budgets by countries

By Foster Obi

Pan-African Parliament (PAP) has urged its members to ensure that African Union (AU) member states allocate adequate funding to cater for healthcare systems when budgets are submitted to the legislature for consideration. The call follows a briefing to members of the PAP Committees on Health and Gender by the Africa Centre for Disease Control (CDC), which revealed that inadequate healthcare services impeded Africa’s response to the novel Coronavirus during the early days of the spread of the global health threat.

The Africa CDC has described Africa’s limited health budget, weak health facilities and shortage of health workers as hindrance to the fight against pandemics in general. According to the presentation, only 50% of member states have access to modern health facilities while 10% of GDP is spent on healthcare for most African countries. Dr. Raji Tajudeen, Africa CDCs’ Head for Public Health and Research and Co-Chair of the Africa Task Force for Coronavirus (AFTCOR) told African Parliamentarians that the institution has been spearheading a continental coordination of COVID-19 response to fill the gaps of a weak healthcare system. As it stands, the continent has a total of 251,866 cases; 6,769 deaths; and 114,308 recoveries (45%).

The joint webinar meeting was opened by Hon. Chief Fortune Charumbira, 4th Vice President of the PAP who stressed that the continental Parliament is looking to the Committees on Health and Gender to lead its response to the current health crisis. He said “while this pandemic has prevented us from meeting physically, I am gratified that we are adopting technology to serve our people. As representatives of our citizens, we need to take charge and play a role in the process of finding solutions as we engage with both our peoples and governments.”

Hon. Simplice Zingas, Chairperson of the Committee on Health said that experiences from the Covid-19 pandemic should serve as an ignition of a different way of addressing health issues on the Continent. He believes this is an