I am currently part of the team at LSE working on the African Health Observatory – Platform on Health Systems & Policies (AHOP). The partnership includes the World Health Organisation’s African Health Observatory, the European Observatory on Health Systems and Policies and leading research institutions in Ethiopia, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda and Senegal. I work to create and promote evidence-informed policy-making strategies in the African region.
1. No pillar of societal challenges represents the spirit of intended co-operation between the UK and Africa more than the need to ensure health of populations. Health is not only a pre-requisite for sustainable development but it is also a fundamental driver of development, peace and prosperity.
2. The agreement to “invest in people” goes straight to the core tenet of the African Union’s aspiration that by 2063 sound health and wellbeing is achieved for all African people. This includes the attainment of positive quality of life measures such as the health, education, agricultural production, job creation, and research and innovation. The UK’s significant development budget and activity in this area already provides the foundation for more innovative ‘joined-up thinking’ in this area.
3. Decisions related to any one of these siloed areas of governance can create or exacerbate major outcomes for health and wellbeing of populations. A realisation and articulation of the synergies between the multiple siloed areas of interest and health is needed. Health is the key nexus and its integration into other aspects of governance fosters prosperity (supporting young people, ensuring the participation of women and disabled persons filters up towards strengthening resilience and driving prosperity).
4. For example, health is a key component on migration. The relationship between migration and health is complex. Being and staying healthy is a fundamental precondition for migrants to work, be productive and to contribute to the social and economic development of their communities of origin and destination. Health prospects linked to prosperity are also linked to migration issues. The migrations process may exacerbate health vulnerabilities and risk behaviours, as well as being an enabler for achieving better health trajectories. There is also exclusion of migrants from traditional health services and systems.
5. Drivers of prosperity can occur through the fundamentals of health and wellbeing; and not simply through the mobilisation of investments and the promotion of trade. Health and its wider determinants are essential for fostering good livelihoods, building a productive workforce, creating resilient and vibrant communities, enabling mobility, promoting social interaction, and protecting vulnerable populations (such as women and disabled persons). This is the real challenge of Africa’s sustainable transformation).
6. Joined-up thinking occurs at the boundaries and interactions of many different communities. Producers of evidence and those that seek to make decisions based on that evidence need more structured and efficient interactions. Innovative new approaches and frameworks can only be built from such interactions. Knowledge exchange platforms already exist but need sharper focus on the needs of all stakeholders. For the most part, much of the evidence already exists; the challenge lies in linking that evidence to country needs. Facilitating of interactions and engagement with the disparate scientific and policy communities.
7. The Government and the committee should consider developing new ways of bridging such divides.