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[afro-nets] Direct Investment in health is good business sense

Direct Investment in health is good business sense
Despite the central position occupied by human and social dimensions of 
development within the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the links between 
health and sustainable development including the contribution of health to 
poverty alleviation has not been properly made. However, this has begun to 
change with the recognition of HIV/AIDS epidemic as a key global development 
issue. We have also seen the central place health has taken in discussions 
among African Heads of States  within the framework of the African Union (AU). 
Increasingly health has also been a major feature on the agendas of the G8 
The current and emerging health issues include: the rise in the global spread 
of diseases and infection, increased incidence of food poisoning and food borne 
diseases and out breaks, rising environmental pollution levels and the 
globalization of unhealthy lifestyles. At the same time, the world still faces 
age-old public health problems associated with poverty, including lack of 
access to clean water and sanitation, inadequate housing, pollution and poor 
hygiene. For developing countries such as Nigeria, this is a �double jeopardy�.

It has been noted that improvement in health could contribute to lessening of 
poverty and vulnerability through positive pathways that link poverty and ill- 
health. For example, improved health leads to increased productivity, better 
learning abilities and increased access to information, an enhanced sense of 
well-being, an increase in employment opportunity, healthier lifestyles, longer 
lives with less disability and decreased violence. Therefore, investing in 
health could be seen not only as a definite goal on its own right, but also as 
a strategy for poverty reduction.

Businesses have been involved in health as part of corporate social 
responsibility (CSR). This is based on the understanding that sustainable 
development is not achievable without social responsibility, and health is an 
essential component of this. In order to achieve this there is a need to move 
from dialogue into partnerships and alliances. 

Emphasis need to be placed on meeting targets such as the MDGs aimed at 
reducing the burden of diseases affecting the poor, and protecting and 
promoting health in the development process. Five basic principles would apply:
- ensuring that household needs are paramount;
- maximizing community action;
- supporting non-government providers
- reviewing the role of government; and
- ensuring sustainability in financial transactions in the provision and use of 
Dr Tarry Asoka 
Executive Director - Care-Net Ltd
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