As African governments move towards expanding the coverage and quality of health care, coupled with the scaling-up of interventions in the control and treatment of communicable diseases (malaria, TB and HIV/AIDS), the securing of adequate financing is one of the many challenges that need to be addressed. In this regard, achieving greater value for money, finding alternative sources of financing, reprioritising existing resources, increasing domestic revenues, and more predictable and progressive aid modalities have to be considered.

CABRI’s conference on Challenges and Opportunities in Health Financing in Africa, which took place from 30 November to 1 December 2015 in Tanzania, provided a forum for African health and finance officials to discuss their plans to move towards universal health coverage, and how to finance this in the context of limited resources.  

The conference used the CABRI approach of peer learning to improve the dialogue and co-ordination between ministries of finance and health, and to benefit from the experiences of other countries, which proved to be effective. A key product of the conference was a position paper on health financing, which summarised the main outcomes and conclusions of the conference discussions.

Delegates at the conference agreed that universal health coverage is a worthy goal and that countries need to build fiscal space, improve efficiency, invest in health priorities, deepen inter-ministerial dialogue and, most importantly, build resilient health systems that can withstand the growing disease burden and mitigate eventual pandemics on the continent.

African countries have expressed the desire to continue engaging with and learning from each other on health financing. Future work will focus on making efficiency gains in health spending and building technical capacity for health budget examiners.  

The health sector (along with the education and agriculture sectors) was an important feature of CABRI’s 10th Annual Seminar publication, Value for Money in Public Spending, which was published this year.