Why this is important to Wisconsin businesses: Wisconsin companies have the opportunity to contribute to the training of more than half a million new workers that the field needs to hire in the next 10 years.

To meet predicted demand for health care workers in sub-Saharan Africa, 90,000 doctors and 500,000 nurses must be trained within the next 10 years. Thus, the region holds a host of opportunities for Wisconsin firms in the health care sector.

The World Bank’s current estimate for economic growth in the region is 4.4 percent in 2016 and 4.8 percent in 2017, with current growth at 4 percent. Seven of the top ten fastest-growing national economies are in sub-Saharan Africa. The region, with approximately 1 billion people, is seeing many countries move into the middle-income phase of development, where health demands and resources to pay for an improved lifestyle become widely available. Wisconsin exporters stand to gain from Africa’s varied requirements of a continent with a fast-growing middle class, longer lives and a changing disease load, with an economy currently approximating $1 trillion.

In addition to opportunities, the region also holds many challenges when it comes to health care. The region has 11 percent of the world’s population but carries 24 percent of the global disease burden. With less than 1 percent of global health expenditure and only 3 percent of the world’s health workers, Africa accounts for almost half the world’s deaths of children under age 5, has the highest maternal mortality rate, and bears a heavy toll from HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. Non-communicable (or lifestyle) diseases are quickly on the rise, tripling in the past decade.

According to a recent World Bank report, The Business of Health in Africa: Partnering with the Private Sector to Improve People's Lives, spending on health in sub-Saharan Africa is expected to double over the next 10 years. Investments of $25 billion to $30 billion will be needed to meet this demand, with the private sector playing a key role. The rapid growth of the middle class is creating demand across many health care sectors. Health care in sub-Saharan Africa is growing at a rate of 5.8 percent, triple the sector’s growth rate in Europe or North America, and second only to its growth rate in Asia.

Firms involved in the training of health care workers should reach out to the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation to get connected to Wisconsin’s trade representatives in sub-Saharan Africa, so they can take part in fulfilling sub-Saharan Africa’s health care education needs.