The HIV/AIDS epidemic remains high on the health agenda and it is estimated that 36.7 million people were living with it at the end of 2016 and that there are approximately 5,000 new infections every day. The UNAIDS organisation aims to end AIDS by 2030 but has estimated that US$26.2 billion is needed by 2020 to meet global targets, leaving a funding shortfall of about US$5 billion in the next two years. One of the main reasons for the funding gap is that government funding on AIDS has declined in recent years – a health systems approach is seen as a higher priority – and there are calls for the private sector to make up the shortfall.
The Ecobank Foundation’s purpose is to improve the quality of life for people across the African continent and one of the three key areas that it focuses upon is health (the others are education and financial inclusion). Last month its Chief Operating Officer, Carl Manlan, participated in a Private Sector Panel, held at the margin of the 22nd International AIDS Conference in Amsterdam, which discussed how the private sector can create purposeful partnerships to effectively address and contribute to the fight to end AIDS.
The panel called for greater collaboration at country level and for public and private sector partnerships with a focus on the core capabilities of each company and organisation. This is seen as more effective than separate acts of philanthropy because it enables funds to be mutualised for the greater good rather than each entity engaging independently in the health arena. The Ecobank Foundation is working with the Global Fund to tap into its core capabilities to strengthen its contribution to ending AIDS focusing on digital financial services, accountability and transparency in program implementation.
In respect of the US$5 billion funding gap, Ecobank’s EcobankPay gives it the opportunity to tap into a new source of donors that are willing and able to pay for results: the diaspora and Africans with disposable income are obvious potential contributors to the transformation of the continent.
HIV/AIDS diverts families, businesses, communities, regions and economies’ resources and it is right that the Ecobank Foundation is committed to playing its full part in battling it with strong partners. Public-private purposes will unlock partnerships to address challenges at community level thus unlocking greater possibilities for nations across Africa.
Private Sector Partnership Report