Healthcare in Africa
Healthcare in African countries has a lot of room for improvement. Governments and NGOs are actively looking to fix that. For instance, countries like Zambia, Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Kenya, and South Africa have made significant strides to improve healthcare for their citizens by introducing Strategic health planning, public health reforms, and adopting new technology.
Strategic health planning is employed to revamp the health sector of a country setting goals and creating objectives for areas where a state would like to improve on and then proceeded to construct a plan to accomplish these objectives. In the health sector, especially, healthcare planning must take into account potential government challenges faced by the people, technological advancements, policy changes, and economic trends that could change the countries’ operations in a significant way.
The term public healthcare system refers to the congregation of public, private, and voluntary organizations that unitedly work toward improving the health conditions of communities. By employing network physicians, nurses, midwives, and others, the system provides medical treatment to the poor and needy.
The motto of the public healthcare network is to make medical treatment of all kinds, affordable and accessible to everyone. It achieves these objectives by mobilizing resources, deploying skilled healthcare workers on the ground, engaging in talks with other countries and coordinating efforts, and so on.
Technology, in particular, has played a vital role in enhancing healthcare. Services such as South African National Blood Service (SANBS), which uses drones to deliver blood to those in need or applications such as the Omomi or Hello Doctor services that provide medical care to patients who reside in remote areas, are revolutionary and have saved millions.
Challenges in the African Healthcare System
Africa has faced some of the worst pandemics in history like Ebola and Zika and is now fighting Coronavirus. People in Africa are living in fear and uncertainty over the rising viral infections, coupled with poor health service offerings.
African communities and the African Government are continually striving to stop the spread of communicable and other infectious diseases. It is the No. 1 priority of the Government to identify the challenges in the healthcare system and overcome them.
Some of the past studies and surveys have given us valuable inputs in this direction.
Highlights from the African Epidemiological Association report aptly mentions the top three reasons why African healthcare is going through a massive crisis.
Medical professionals have always been in demand in the African continent. As per a report by QUARTZ, there is only one doctor for 5,000 patients in Africa. The quality and also the capability of healthcare workers across Africa are lacking.
Often more than not, corruption averts many of the much-needed resources away and diminishes patient access to medicine and services. Some examples include medical staff in public health care institutions who tend to sell free drugs and theft for personal use illegally or to resell them through the black market.
Counterfeit drugs are a significant issue in African countries. With numerous loosely managed distributors with sophisticated counterfeiting technology and no proper checks in place, counterfeit drugs often cause many complications and deaths in the continent.
Dynamic Medical Needs of the Public
A wide range of diseases is often challenging and require specific tactics to control. Besides, they are highly in need of medicine and medical support dynamically. This scenario becomes a significant challenge for public health in Africa.
And some other lesser-known issues.
- Insufficient budget allocation to healthcare
- Medical supplies are unaffordable prices and face disruptions in the supply
- Inefficient coordination between public and private healthcare sectors
- Misunderstanding between policymakers in the health ministry and the educational ministry
Now, let us look at what is being done on the ground to overcome the above challenges and how successful are they.
10 Ways to Address Healthcare Challenges in Africa
At present, the healthcare system in Africa demands innovative and multi-faceted solutions to tackle these issues. It has become the need of the hour to look at each challenge and design solutions that ensure a healthy and happy life for its citizens.
- Improve the Doctor-Patient Ratio
African Epidemiological Association report mentioned earlier also points out that Africa is a continent that suffers one-quarter of the world’s diseases, but just had just 3% of the doctors as of 2016 to treat them. YSJOURNAL also mentions in one of its reports that the lowest ratio of healthcare workers to the population is found in Africa. These facts shed light on the continent’s indeed in a crisis that needs immediate attention not only from the governments of African countries but also from the entire world.
- Combat the Brain Drain Phenomenon
Retaining public health workers in Africa by offering them benefits and attractive salaries and better career opportunities may reduce the migration rate.
- Better Medical Education
Literacy is also one of the factors that are challenging African countries. According to UNESCO, on average, only 61% of adults in Sub-Saharan can read and write. This issue can improve by providing better education and opening up more intuitions for students, not to mention identifying the right talents to head several departments attached to public healthcare.
- Increase the Budgetary Allocation
According to the data from the World Bank of Sub-Saharan Africa, only spend around 6% of their GDP on health, and this is a severe bottleneck to development.
- Better Collaboration
Every African country needs to work closely with the WHO and the United Nations to form people-friendly policies that are more responsive and result-driven.
- Improved Coordination
Coordination between the private sector and the public sector in health services should be improved to build a better healthcare system across the African countries.
- Widespread Public Awareness
The overall health of the public should be improved by running awareness campaigns and dispatching testing camps to remote areas, thereby reducing patient load and spreading awareness in people
- Incorporating Technology into Healthcare
Adapting digital platforms for quick and efficient supply-chain management, doctor-patient interactions, complete patient monitoring software, and so on are required to treat patients efficiently.
- Setting up Research and Development Centers
It is high time that African countries start implementing innovations in the healthcare industry. More funds and resources should be allocated to help professionals deal with tackling problems related to health.
- Better Intel
With over 490 million internet users in the African continent, information is crucial, providing access to the right information regarding public health safety and policies via public health courses. Establishing universities that offer public health courses will not only supply more public health workers but also create more job opportunities in this sector.
How Can Education Resolve the Most Pressing Healthcare Challenges in Africa?
In Africa, the public healthcare system is tied with many NGO’s and independent organizations locally and from other nations who are providing aid to overcome the challenges in this direction. A public health program is an extensive plan covering various aspects beyond the physical wellbeing of people. It responds to issues like any injury, violence in the community, various vaccination programs, and infectious diseases.
A graduate of the master’s in public health speaks a ton about your commitment to improving wellbeing. After completing a master’s in public health, here are some of the ways you can contribute to the public:
- Study the disparities in the access to healthcare and its reach to different parts in the African nation and formulate a plan of action
- Counsel communities and individuals of the law for better healthcare for everyone
- Carefully study the health issues that are impacting the lives of many in Africa and other countries, and prevent the spread of such diseases
- Suggest changes and implement new health policies that benefit those who are in a dire need
- Improve and form new community partnerships and associations with foreign NGOs
- Discover technology-based solutions through research and implement them for better medical care for the public
How Can You Help Change This?
Public health is a field that can help implement these changes. Texila American University offers a master’s in a public health program that is designed to equip students with the necessary knowledge and skills that are required to excel in the field of healthcare.
Some of the roles you can take up after completing your master’s in public health and their salary by parts.
|Role||Average Annual Salary|
(Converted to USD)*
|Job Outlook (2018-2028)^|
|Medical and Health Services Manager||35,513||18%|
|Public Health Attorney||13,197||6%|
|Health and Safety Engineer||10,683||5%|
Texila American University’s online public health course lets you manage both your career and study, equally and effectively. This master’s degree in public health online is open to both science and non-science graduates. However, the conditions for admissions for each category is different.
Now is the perfect time to consider studying a master’s in public health specializations and serve your country with pride.