The outbreak of COVID-19 places severe stress on health care systems around the world. Even before the pandemic, the health system of Africa was fragile, as were higher cases of HIV, malaria, diabetes, hypertension and malnutrition. According to the Global Health Security Index, which evaluates the health system capabilities of the country, there are 33 out of 54 classified African countries which are least prepared to deal with internationally-induced epidemic threats. Estimates suggest that the gap in Africa’s health funding is up to 66 billion dollars per year which indicates a conventional source of healthcare finance. There is insufficient government funding and donor funding. This requires a more holistic approach to turn the risks of population and disease burdens into a demographic dividend.
The multi-sectoral intervention will be needed to improve access to equitable medical care. The capacity building of national health systems will require the co-operation and participation of all stakeholders, including governments, the private sector, international community and regional development bodies.
The expertise of India in contemporary and traditional medicines, especially in Africa, was the main focus of its partnership. The good proportion of African medical visitors in India actually reflects Indian Healthcare’s brand image. India attracts almost 50,000 African medical tourists every year. Recent international air travel prohibitions have made the use of these services increasingly difficult for medical tourists. Indian healthcare investments can cover part of this base of customers, except catering for the rest of the region’s population.
The preliminary study of Exim Bank estimates that currently, the Indian healthcare industry can profit considerably from investment in a capacity of one hundred beds of at least five hospitals in Africa. It could be distributed throughout the five continent regions – North, East, Central, Western and Southern Africa. In line with these changing needs, India must change its foreign policy with Africa and explore investment opportunities in the development of health care facilities in Africa, while supporting African economies to achieve Sustainable Development Goals, in particular Universal Health Coverage (UHC) and African Agenda 2063. These improvements must be made by means of a combination of actions, including public and private participation, common enterprises and foreign direct investment (FDI).