Factors influencing inequality in government health expenditures within African regional economic communities

Nicholas Ngepah, Ariane Ephemia Ndzignat Mouteyica

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: The unequal distribution of government health spending within African regional economic groupings is a significant barrier to achieving Universal Health Coverage and reaching health-related Sustainable Development targets. It also hampers the progress toward achieving the African Union’s vision of an integrated and prosperous Africa, free of its heavy disease burden. Based on panel data from 36 countries nested into eight Regional Economic Communities (RECs), this study probes the effects of countries' macro-level factors on government health expenditure disparities within eight regional economic communities from 2000 to 2019. Method: We use the multilevel linear mixed-effect method to show whether countries' trade gains, life expectancy at birth, poverty, urbanization, information and communication technology, and population aging worsen or reduce the differences for two government health expenditure indicators. Results: The insignificant effect of GDP per capita suggests that in most regional economic groupings, the health sector is still not considered a high-priority sector regarding overall government expenditures. Countries' poverty levels and urbanization increase the domestic general government health expenditure disparities as a percentage of general government expenditure within the regional groupings. However, trade gains and ICT diffusion reduce these disparities. Furthermore, the results reveal that external health expenditure per capita and life expectancy at birth positively impact within-regional inequalities in the domestic general government health expenditure per capita. In contrast, GDP per capita and trade gains tend to reduce them. Conclusions: This study enriches the research on the determinants of government health expenditure inequality in Africa. Policies that can spur growth in trade and ICT access should be encouraged. Countries should also make more efforts to reduce poverty. Governments should also develop policies promoting economic growth and planned urbanization.

Original languageEnglish
Article number311
JournalBMC Health Services Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2024
Externally publishedYes


  • Africa
  • Health expenditure
  • Inequality
  • Linear mixed-effect approach
  • RECs

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy


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