Kigali, 06 November, 2010

President Kagame on November 6 2010 attended the Private sector Summit at Kigali Serena Hotel organized by the Friends of Global Fund Africa and the First Lady’s Office. In his remarks, President Kagame thanked both institutions for organising the summit and especially for inviting the Private sector to be part of it as a way of expanding health sector funding beyond traditional donors.

President Kagame commended the Global Fund for the crucial role that the organization is playing in saving countless lives that would otherwise have been lost to preventable diseases like HIV/Aids, Malaria and Tuberculosis. “This success, first in mobilising resources and then in facilitating individual countries to implement their programmes on the basis of their priorities, provides us with an example of a successful public-private partnership,” President Kagame said.

But President Kagame said that in spite of everything, there is still not enough resources needed to permanently eradicate these diseases, and other threats to the health of the African people. “So tonight, we have before us a challenge and an opportunity; a challenge in the sense that we must quickly find new ways of supporting existing health initiatives and also think of new interventions. But we also can seize the opportunity to identify sustainable solutions, develop additional partnerships and broaden sources of support,” the President said.

President Kagame encouraged the private sector to tap into their dynamism and support health systems by arguing that investing in a healthy population is good for business. “First, there is a direct connection between business profitability and accessible, affordable health services. Investment in infrastructure, provision of health care, manufacturing and distribution of drugs, insurance and training bring in good returns. Second, the health sector accounts for some of the biggest expenditures in terms of drugs, medical equipment and treatments – and all this money goes to foreign companies,” the President said. The President encouraged the Rwandan private sector to take up the challenge. “Health is not a one-off investment; people will always need health services, and hence there will always be a market in this area of business. A healthy productive workforce results in healthy profits. On the other hand, disease prevalence and absenteeism due to illness exact a heavy price on enterprises. For example, a 10% HIV prevalence rate leads to a drop of over 30% in enterprise productivity,” the President said.

President Kagame said that in addition to corporate social responsibility and philanthropy investment in health makes economic sense and that the realisation marks a shift in the way people look at health. “It is now more of an investment with unmistakable dividends than a consumption cost. For a long time, spending on health has been viewed in this way; as a concern of governments, and of little interest to the business community. I am not suggesting in any way that African governments should drop their responsibility to provide health services to their populations – this is part of their core mandate,” the President said.