Over the past years, the demand for quality health care has increased across the continent as African countries struggle to provide good health services to their citizens. Unfortunately, the best of these services are still available to the upper-class citizens because such services are readily found in the private sector which bills very high for their services.
According to the World Bank, the continent accounts for 25 percent of the world disease burden yet 60-80% of healthcare needs are largely primary care. The challenges facing this sector still remain inadequate financing, inefficient resource allocation, poor supply chain infrastructure, and a shortage of skilled healthcare personnel. Most countries in Africa still have a very low doctor to patient ratio which has made the probability of getting quality services very low.
In most cases, health workers who are usually the primary health caregivers have limited training. In Malawi, medical assistants go through only 2 years of training to become the main primary care provider. While in another country like Rwanda, nurses are being trained at the high school level.
However, the desire of leaders in the continent to put health at centre of development has been reiterated through the 2008 Ouagadougou Declaration on Primary Health Care and health systems in Africa and the 2012 Tunis Declaration.
State of health care systems in Africa
Several countries are making remarkable efforts in improving health care systems and access to health care. But unfortunately, health care delivery still remains a major challenge as less than 50% of Africans have access to modern health facilities. However, some countries in Africa are classified among countries with quality health systems.
The World Health Organization’s ranking of the world’s health systems which was lastly produced in 2000 placed Morocco at the 29th position out of 191 countries. On the list, Morocco featured as the country with one of the best health care systems in Africa followed by Tunisia, Seychelles, and, Senegal at the 52nd, 56th and 59th position respectively.
In addition, South Africa’s national healthcare system was 132nd out of 144 countries by the World Economic Forum. It also indicated that South Africans use private healthcare which is comparable to some of the best in the world.
Although Nigeria was ranked 187 for the overall effectiveness of its health care system on the World Health Organization’s league tables, it has good initiatives which are improving life for inhabitants such as the family planning and immunization programmes. Uganda as well has been noted for having standard medical facilities in Uganda with private clinics in Kampala that offers good services. In Kenya, we also have the best private hospitals cities such as Nairobi and Mombasa, which offer services comparable to those in developed countries.
Africa’s health sector craves for more funding
Recently, health has been recognized as a vital aspect for development in Africa and several states are increasing investment efforts to improve health care. At the moment, most countries spend less than 10% of their GDP on health care and the per capita expenditure of the continent ranges from $20 to $25, which appears far below the $40 stipulated by the World Health Organization.
According to the International Finance Cooperation, IFC, close to $25-$30 billion in new investment will be required to meet the health care demand in Africa. However, recent funding efforts yielded impressive results. Tanzania witnessed a substantial decline in malaria deaths while the maternal mortality rate in Uganda dropped by more than half.
The capital need for the sector throughout the continent has been situated beyond $25 billion, hence the need for funding so as to the sector and carter for the basic health need in most countries.
Despite the obstacle to improving health outcomes in Africa, the government, as well as the private sector, are making progress in providing befitting health care services to the masses. There is however need for a close partnership between the public and private sectors to better improve the sector.
Article from AFRIC editorial.
Credit image/google images.