Covering the 2011-15 period, the National Health Strategy was launched in 2010 and aims to accelerate sector reforms by improving the overall governance of health care, reducing infant and maternal mortality, introducing free maternal health care and investing in infrastructure, especially hospitals.
The country has been rolling out its universal health care system, the National Insurance and Social Welfare Fund since 2008 as part of a broader effort to improve the standard of living. However, challenges such as a shortage of trained medical personnel remain, and the country still has much work to do to meet the goals set for its health care sector. Health spending as a proportion of GDP remains comparatively low and non-communicable illnesses linked to demographic shifts and lifestyle changes, including cancer, hypertension, obesity and diabetes are a growing concern.
One of the three key pillars of the Emerging Gabon strategy is Services Gabon, which addresses the development of a skilled labour force and aims to establish the country as a regional centre for financial services, tertiary education, health and environmentally sustainable development.
Gabon increased its investment budget in 2013 as part of its plan to overhaul public infrastructure across the board. Proposed investment in education in the budget was up 53% year-on-year to €138m. Efforts to identify future economic needs and to bring tertiary education in line with the demands of the job market are vital for the economic growth of the country. Agreements with private companies looking to increase the number of qualified professionals are on the rise, with plans for several new industry-specific schools announced in recent years. The private sector and foreign cooperation will play a key role in improving the educational offering and thereby helping the nation to provide the skilled workers required by its growing economy.
This chapter contains an interview with Simon Ntoutoume Emane, Minister of Labour, Work and Vocational Training.