African Governments Must Act Immediately To Address AfCFTA’s Potential Negative Health Implications

Project Syndicate: Will Free Trade Make Africans Sick?
Walter Ochieng, doctor, health economist, and Aspen New Voices fellow

“…The African Union views the [African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA)] as an important step toward integrating the continent and promoting regional trade. Given the experience of other free-trade blocs, however, the pact raises concerns about the weakening of government-funded public health systems, increasingly unequal access to care, a medical brain drain, higher drug prices, increased consumption of unhealthy products, and the spread of diseases. African governments should act immediately to assess these threats and counter the AfCFTA’s potential negative health implications. … African governments should learn from the experience of other trading blocs, and act now to protect the poor from the unintended health consequences of open trade policies. … The AfCFTA could yield enormous economic benefits for Africa. But its possible negative impact on Africans’ health should not be ignored” (4/15).