Africa’s healthcare system faces challenges ranging from leadership and governance to healthcare workforce, medical products and technologies systems, Health management information system (HMIS) and ICT, healthcare financing, overall coordination and management of health services.

Conversely, low healthcare services result in increased disease burdens and impedes the attainment of universal health coverage.

 

Africa is burdened by communicable and non-communicable diseases. Cost-effective interventions that can prevent the disease burden exist but coverage is too low due to health systems weaknesses.

 

It is estimated that Africa faces a healthcare financing gap of US $66 billion per annum. Failing healthcare systems is key to why health outcomes in the continent tend to be low. For instance, SDG 3.1 calls for a reduction in the global maternal mortality rate (MMR) to less than 70 per 100,000 live births by 2030 and countries are expected to have an MMR of no more than twice the global average.

With close to 1.5 million confirmed COVID-19 cases and over 32,000 recorded deaths in Africa, the pandemic has exerted significant strain on already overstretched health systems across the region, further affecting the delivery of other essential health services such as immunization, sexual and reproductive health. Millions of vulnerable populace do not have access to quality health care thereby reducing their quality of life and their ability to lift themselves out of extreme poverty.

 

While acknowledging that Africa is faced with the most dramatic public health crisis, there is hope that over time, the region will address the health challenges it faces, given sufficient international support.

 

The inability of the political class to effectively address the regions numerous public health challenges has contributed to the persistent and high level of poverty and the weakness of the health system. Political instability, corruption, limited institutional capacity and an unstable economy are major factors responsible for the poor development of health services in the continent. Households and individuals in Africa are victims of a dysfunctional and inequitable health system.

 

 

The pandemic has highlighted the need for strong health information systems that collect and utilize quality, timely and reliable data, that is disaggregated by gender and other diversities, identifying gaps and bringing visibility to the plight of vulnerable populations, to inform responsive policies.

 

African governments must undertake smart investment so as to build more equitable and resilient health systems. Furthermore, governments must remove financial barriers to accessing health services as the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated that every sector is dependent on the health system.

 

Although pharmaceutical products are currently manufactured in countries such as South Africa, Kenya, Morocco, Nigeria and Egypt, as a whole Africa currently imports more than 80 per cent of its pharmaceutical and medical consumables.

 

The Conference will provide an avenue for medical experts to review the health care situation in Africa with the aim of address the challenges, inefficiencies and bottlenecks frustrating efficient primary, secondary and tertiary health care systems in the region.

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