He made the call in his keynote address at a session during the Commonwealth Business Forum at the sidelines of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM). The session titled “Business of Health: Improving Access and Outcomes” took place on Wednesday at the Hilton Hotel, Valleta in Malta.
President Mutharika noted that increased participation of many stakeholders in the Health sector is key in servicing the whole Commonwealth community.
“Most countries are now opening up the Health Sector to private investments. There are now such instruments and frameworks as Public Private Partnerships (PPPs), outsourcing of services in public health facilities, total commercialization of health services to be fully run by private sector entities; and other forms of contractual agreements,” said the Malawi leader.
He added, “Malawi has gone to the extent of passing a law for the creation of Public-Private Partnerships. We now have the legal framework for the private sector to invest and participate in the delivery of public services in a bid to improve access and health outcomes.” Mutharika went further to explain how the business of Health is crucial to the populace.
“The business of Health is all about making sure that all people, regardless of their predisposition and situations, are able to live a good quality life, free of diseases and ill health. Much of Commonwealth is in great need. From the region where I come from, Sub Saharan Africa, we are faced with a double burden of communicable diseases, particularly Malaria, HIV/Aids and Tuberculosis. Then come to think of our growing problem of non-communicable diseases.
Think of cancer, hypertension, diabetes and child and maternal complications. These are also leading causes of ill health and fatalities. And these are challenges rising far beyond the borders of my world,” he said.
Areas in which there are investment opportunities in the Health sector -according to President Mutharika - include Build, Operate and Transfer (BOT) arrangements for running of hospitals of all types and sizes, Contract arrangements in supply and maintenance of medical equipment and running medical insurance schemes. Other areas include building and operating laboratories, managing referral systems, running of outsourced services and many other services.
Though his keynote address was for the whole Commonwealth community, the President emphasized on Sub Saharan Africa - where Malawi is located- as the best destination for these Public-Private Partnerships in addressing health problems.
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that as much as 37 million people worldwide are known to be living with the HIV and Aids virus with the majority of them living in Sub-Saharan African countries. Malaria affects over 200 million people annually. Furthermore, maternal deaths and under five child mortalities are also the highest in Sub-Saharan Africa. One in every four children die before reaching their fifth birthday.
These statistics indicate that Sub-Saharan African countries carry more burden than the rest of Commonwealth nations. The session was attended by heads of state and government, heads of public and private institutions, business leaders and captains of industry from the Commonwealth bloc.