Healthcare is one of the most valued sectors in the world today.  Health is a goal within the Sustainable Development Goals (United Nations, 2016) which has influenced global policy makers to make health and healthcare a priority.  One could argue that none of the other Sustainable Development Goals can be achieved if the world does not have healthy people.  The global expenditure on healthcare was calculated to be 9.33% in the year 2014. The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends that countries spend 5% or more of their GDP to fund healthcare. Most developed and some developing countries are spending way above this allotment on healthcare, whereas most developing countries are still spending below this figure (World Bank, 2014).  Nigeria, for example, is the most populous country in Africa, and one of the countries with the highest ranked GDPs, and yet it only spent 3.7% of its GDP on healthcare in the year 2014.  This is saddening as innocent people, and mostly those in rural areas, are the worst affected by this imbalance in spending. 

Why Spend on Healthcare?

As indicated before, none of the development goals can be achieved without healthy people.  With this in mind, healthcare is therefore not an expense, but rather an investment for governments and international policy-makers.  Healthy people make up the labor or workforce of a country.  Without a healthy workforce, a country’s economy can crumble, thereby resulting in failed states.  Investing in healthcare, especially for children, means that the country invests in its future.  The provision of necessary vaccines and medication for children contributes to bringing up healthy adults who will be key players in the economic development of nations.

Actions for Young People

As always, lobby groups are usually recommended to gain the attention of governments.  The many proponents for the various arguments for increased spending on healthcare are exactly what makes it special and distinctive.  Firstly, young people can argue that they demand increased healthcare spending as they are a vulnerable group in systems without quality healthcare, as determined by the Global Strategy on Women’s, Adolescents’ and Children’s Health.  For the mere fact that young people are victims, it is only natural that youth should demand the attention of their governments.  Secondly, young people can demand to be represented within the policy structures that make decisions about healthcare in their governments.  This tactic will require unity and discipline amongst lobby groups who have the same agenda.  When included within decision-making, young people will be able to influence decisions made around healthcare spending.  While spending can be increased, it is a possibility that healthcare services for young people may not be improved, this tactic can assist in avoiding such incidences. 

Lastly, youth can request for sustainable increased spending through amplified healthcare entrepreneurship support from their governments.  The involvement of youth in healthcare entrepreneurship will make them key stakeholders within the industry.  It is suggested that more than 70 percent of the medicines consumed in Africa are imported, meaning that only 30% of the medicines are manufactured in Africa (John-Paul Iwuoha, 2017).  Young people can call for their governments to support entrepreneurship in the form of medical and pharmacological manufacturing, services, and even retail.  In-country manufacturing is music to the ears of governments as it has a direct impact on the GDP, employment rate and competitiveness of countries.  Using this tactic may have conflicting interests - especially with money involved - however, it may be a way to get the attention of governments.

Final thoughts

It is important to understand that increased healthcare spending does not necessarily translate into increased healthcare access.  Particular attention will be required to ensure that healthcare interventions reach the rural areas.  Sustainability of spending should also be a key concern for young people, as they will inherit the future of their country.

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