Speech by Prime Minister Erna Solberg at the Africa Leadership Meeting in Addis Abeba, 9 February 2019.
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Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,
It is an honour to be here today, together with so many distinguished leaders.
And it is a privilege to talk about a topic that is so important to us all.
When you invest in health, you invest in people and prosperity.
We know that a healthy population is a productive population.
11 % of recent economic growth in low- and middle-income countries is due to increased health investments and reduced mortality.
This is why the Norwegian Government invests more than half a billion dollars in global health every year.
Most of it in Africa.
In the long run, good health is good business – for all of us.
The downward spiral of bad health and unaffordable health care is one of the reasons why people struggle to escape poverty.
We must honour our commitment to “leave no one behind”.
Improving health services is the best way to make life easier and better, for families, individuals, and the entire continent.
Investing in the health of women, especially girls, gives results.
We also know that investments in other sectors, such as education, can have a major impact on health.
We know that educated girls have healthier children, and have better chances of sending their children to school.
And they are in a better position to make a living for themselves.
Since 2001, life expectancy on the African continent has increased by 10 years.
Despite this progress, investments should grow even faster.
Population increase and new health challenges such as the rise of chronic diseases make it even more important to act now.
I believe that the Financing for Development meeting here in Addis Ababa in 2015 marked a shift.
A shift that can be summed up with the keyword ‘sustainability’.
The 2015 Agenda put emphasis on domestic resource mobilisation, and on how these resources are used.
One example of a sustainable health solution is the Global Financing Facility, which was presented at this meeting.
The GFF currently covers 27 countries, mostly in Africa, and 10 new countries will join this year.
Together with President Kaboré of Burkina Faso, I hosted the GFF replenishment event in Oslo last November.
There, President Kaboré reaffirmed Burkina Faso’s commitment to allocate at least 15% of its annual budget to improve health.
Côte d'Ivoire committed itself to increasing its health budget by 15% annually.
And Nigeria recommitted itself to investing 150 million dollars per year in women´s and children’s health.
These are just a few examples of inspiring African leadership on health.
We agree that the way forward lies in increased domestic investments, efficient tax policies, health insurance coverage, private-sector initiatives, and civil society engagement.
I am convinced that good partnerships are crucial for maximising the outcomes of health investments.
We need partnerships between countries, with the private sector, and at the global level.
I am therefore pleased that Dr. Tedros is here today to talk about the Global Action Plan for healthy lives and well-being for all.
The plan seeks to better coordinate international partners in support of country efforts, and is a vital tool for accelerating progress towards SDG3.
Sustainable financing has been identified as a key accelerator.
As economies grow, we must bear in mind that aid is likely to play a less important role in the future.
Together we must prepare for a smooth transition towards domestic financing.
Norway will continue to do its part by working closely with global partnerships and funds to ensure that our efforts are aligned with national priorities and plans.
Well-coordinated public and private services are crucial for ensuring efficient and affordable services for all.
I am pleased that private sector actors are so well represented here today.
If we are to deliver on the promises of the SDGs, we must be creative.
We must identify innovative solutions and smart investments.
We need private sector innovations, for example digital solutions.
We must recognize the fact that the Global Goals, such as health and education, are interlinked.
And we must work together.