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Health care Challenges in Africa
Africa faces a burden of communicable and non-communicable diseases. On March 23, 2014, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported cases of Ebola Virus Disease in the forested rural area of Southeastern Guinea. A research done by Olu, Petu, Ovberedio & Muhongerwa, 2017 states that the 2014/2015 Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) outbreak in West Africa infected more than 28,000 persons out of which 11,000 died. At the height of this outbreak, a considerable load of cases and their contacts overwhelmed the response capacity of the principally affected countries namely Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. When this outbreak happened, the affected states didn’t have experience or tools to identify cases and limit the spread of the disease rapidly. Cost-effective interventions and medical access would have reduced the number of people infected during the epidemic/outbreak, but coverage is too low due to the health care system. These challenges relate to the leadership in Africa countries, health workforce, and medical products.
Challenges and the way forward
All countries suffer from problems of coordination among hospitals and community-based services (Knickman & Knover, 2015, Chapter 4). One challenge is accessing, which is still the greatest challenge to health delivery in Africa. Fewer than 50% of Africans have access to modern health care facilities. Many African countries spend less than 10% of their GDP on healthcare. Secondly, shortages of trained health care professionals from Africa because many of them prefer to live in places like the United States and Europe. There is also the increase in communicable and non-communicable disease such as AIDS, malaria, hypertension, which are increasing in the middle-class and the poor increases. I think the government is responsible for ensuring that everyone has access to healthcare. However, I don’t believe that healthcare is a public good that is the sole responsibility of the government in Africa. There should be an opportunity for entrepreneurs to enter the health delivery space in Africa to provide healthcare to the middle class and the working poor. African Counties need to embrace technology to close health care gap and private-public partnership in the health care system. In 2007, Becton, Dickinson, and Company (BD) and the US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) entered into a public-private sector partnership focused on laboratory-system strengthening in sub-Saharan Africa (Cohen, 2016). This partnership is now known as “Labs for Life” was formed to help the people in low resource countries in Africa living with AIDS access to antiretroviral therapy.
According to Hader (2016),
Public-private partnerships (PPPs) align public and private needs around mutual goals to move vital projects forward. When PPPs work to strengthen the critical link in the healthcare system, such as laboratory networks, as demonstrated in this supplement by authors from the International Laboratory Branch at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in-country officials from the respective CDC and Ministries of Health, implementing partners, and Becton, Dickinson, and Company (BD), they significantly change the landscape of healthcare and patient outcomes.
Cognizant of the challenges mentioned above, the 46 Ministers of Health from the African Region adopted and signed the Ouagadougou Declaration that proposes ways of addressing health system challenges. The Ouagadougou Declaration urges Member States to update their national health policies and plans according to the primary health care (PHC) approach; promote inter-sectorial collaboration and public-private partnership to address broad determinants of health; improve health workforce production and retention; set up mechanisms for increasing availability and accessibility of essential medicines, health technologies and infrastructure; strengthen health information systems; develop and implement strategic health financing policies and plans; promote health awareness and build behavioral change capacities among communities.
Efficient health interventions are available to help with the health care problems in Africa. Unfortunately, health systems are too weak to adequately and equitably deliver those interventions to people who need them. As nurses, we need to reach out to the health care teams and organizations in Africa to speak up for the population. Join International health organizations and write letters to the policymakers in countries in Africa. Let our voice be heard through international media to help curtail this problem. We need to make it a global problem and advocate for this population so they can have good health care and access to medical care by involving policymakers and legislators in their respective countries.
Cohen, G. (2016). Role of Public-Private Partnerships in Meeting Healthcare Challenges in Africa: A Perspective From the Private Sector. The Journal Of Infectious Diseases, 213 Suppl 2, S33. https://doi-org.ezp.waldenulibrary.org/10.1093/infdis/jiv578
Ebola: 2014 Outbreak in West Africa. (2014). Congressional Research Service: Report, Retrieved from https://ezp.waldenulibrary.org/login?url=https://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=edb&AN=98496602&site=eds-live&scope=site
Hader, S. L. (2016). Role of Public-Private Partnerships in Meeting Healthcare Challenges in Africa: A Perspective From the Public Sector. The Journal Of Infectious Diseases, 213 Suppl 2, S34. https://doi-org.ezp.waldenulibrary.org/10.1093/infdis/jiv575
Knickman, J. R., & Knover, A. R. (2015). Health Care Delivery in the United States (11th ed.). New York, NY: Springer Publishing Company
Olu, O., Petu, A., Ovberedjo, M., & Muhongerwa, D. (2017). South-South cooperation in Africa: experiences, challenges and a call for concerted action. Pan African Medical Journal , 28 , 1-7. https://doi-org.ezp.waldenulibrary.org/10.11604/pamj.2017.28.40.12201
The Ouagadougou Declaration. (2002). Africa News Service. Retrieved from https://ezp.waldenulibrary.org/login?url=https://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=edsgov&AN=edsgcl.89001532&site=eds-live&scope=site
World Health Organization: Strengthening health systems to improve health outcomes: World Health Organization’s framework for action Geneva. Retrieved from http://www.wpro.who.int/health_services/strategic_plan_strengthening_health_system