1. Africa has made significant strides in certain areas of social and economic development but has the potential to achieve even more if it can overcome the large burden of disease which continues to be a barrier to faster development. This ever increasing disease burden, despite good plans and strategies, is cause for concern to the policy makers. This has prompted the African Union Ministers of Health to harmonize all the existing health strategies by drawing this Africa Health Strategy which Regional Economic Communities (RECs) and other regional entities and Member States can use to enrich their strategies, depending on their peculiar challenges. The Strategy neither competes with nor negates other health strategies but seeks to complement other specific and detailed strategies by adding value from the unique perspective of the African Union. It provides a strategic direction to Africa’s efforts in creating better health for all.
2. The Strategy recognises that Member States and regions and indeed the continent have previously set health goals in addition to the Millennium Development Goals that they have committed to. It explores some challenges that militate against the continent decreasing the burden of disease and improving development and also draws on existing opportunities. It highlights strategic directions that can be helpful if approached in a multi-sectoral fashion, adequately resourced, implemented and monitored accordingly.
3. The African Union, member states and the RECs will use this Strategy as the inspirational framework within which they will fulfil their roles. The Strategy provides a focus for all health initiatives to converge around. Ministers of Health are calling on multilateral agencies, bilateral development partners and other partners in Africa’s development to build their health contribution around this Strategy. Such a coordinated response is critical to ensure maximum benefit from the resources mobilised and to prevent fragmentation and duplication. This Strategy thus provides an overarching framework to enable coherence within and between countries, civil society and the international community.
4. The strategy proposes strengthening of health systems with the goal of reducing disease burden through improved resources, systems, policies and management. This will contribute to equity through a system that reaches the poor and those most in need of health care. Investment in health will impact on poverty reduction and overall economic development.
5. Health sector should be at the forefront of efforts to advance women’s rights and equality as women not only bear the greatest disease burden but are also primary care givers.