Addis Ababa – Dr Babatunde Osotimehin, Executive Secretary, UN Population Fund (UNFPA) on Monday urged African countries to ensure adequate funding for health care facilities aimed at reducing the risk of losing the continent’s work force.
Osotimehin said in Addis Ababa that investing in youths would bring positive returns to the continent for current and future generations.
“When young people, particularly girls, stay in school, healthy and free from unwanted pregnancies and HIV, they enter the labour market with skills and contribute to national savings’’, he said.
Osotimehin said Africa was home to a large growing youth population noting that young people were leading the way in HIV prevention.
“One of the most cost-effective investments is in sexual and reproductive health which includes maternal and newborn healthcare and family planning. These investments save lives, advance productivity and slow population growth as couples plan and space their birth’’, Osotimehin said.
He said the window of opportunity was opened when there were lower rates of fertility and mortality.
“If jobs are generated for the working population, there is higher productivity, savings and economic growth. East Asia reaped this bonus during the 1960s, 70s and 80s, and poverty rates dropped dramatically,’’ he said.
Osotimehin said Africa accounts for 11 per cent of the world’s population and a home to two-thirds of those living with HIV and AIDS, half of the world’s women who die during pregnancy and child birth, and half of the children who die before the age of five.
He said investing in health would contribute to Africa’s aspiration in governing development, green economics and global sustainability and leveraging opportunities in the next decade.
Osotimehin said the Global Strategy for Women and children Health launched by the UN Secretary General was a partnership and investment platform to catalyse innovation, best practices and funding.
“So far, 18 African countries have made important commitments. We need to realise these commitments, leverage increased funding, and bring more African countries on board to improve the health of every woman and every child’’, he said.
He said the aim was to unleash the potential of Africa and take full advantage of the global strategy to make health, including reproductive health, a priority in national plans and budgets.
Osotimehin said it would also ensure an increase in educational investment, health and skills of adolescents and youth which would in return improve human capital and productivity for the present and future generations.
Osotimehin is in Addis Ababa to discuss issues of improved funding of healthcare with African ministers of finance and other stakeholders. (NAN)