Sierra Leone and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), were listed as the least performing countries in a health capacity index released by Brookings Institute last year.
The report analyzed health systems and the quality of healthcare governance in Sub-saharan Africa and Asia and argued that good governance crowds global health investment.
On the reason for both countries’ low performance, one of the lead authors of the report, Darrell M. West noted that Sierra Leone scored poorly in infrastructure and health systems and does not have a lot of medical professionals and thus harms its ability to deliver healthcare.
Congo, he noted, did not perform well on health systems or health management and had high infant mortality.
The comments above spans across most African countries.
In Ghana, doctor to patient ratio stands at 1 to 10. That is 450 patients below the Commonwealth recommended 1 doctor to 5000 patient ratio.
Nigeria is battling with inadequate production and inequitable distribution of health workers as its health workforce is concentrated in the urban parts of the country.
Liberia is struggling to get back on its feet after the Ebola outbreak in 2014 which further exposed the weakness in the country’s health sector and took away the lives of some health workers. The issue of quack doctors, fake and expired medications on the market cannot be overlooked.
Now, these and other challenges in Africa’s health sector have compelled people to remedy their health problems their own way.
In Ghana, self-acclaimed health professionals diagnose and prescribe drugs to passengers in public transport. These ‘health professionals’ have devised innovative and witty ways of appealing to its customers by luring them of the potency of the drugs they sell. Mind you, these people are not trained health professionals and the dangers of their actions are glaring.
Most countries in Central Africa like DR Congo, Republic of Congo, Gabon among others sell unprescribed medications in the open without any form or regulation from their governments.
Critics have blamed these practices on poor health systems in the continent and have called for African governments to build better health structures not only for those who can afford it but for people in deprived communities.
To improve health care in Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti, the first woman to head the World Health Organisation (WHO)’s Regional Office for Africa suggested in an interview that countries should strengthen the leadership and governance of health sectors to gain the confidence of all stakeholders.
She adds that governments should be more innovative in raising revenues from domestic sources and ensuring that all of their populations have access to essential health services.
Dr Moeti further advocated for the safety of patient and health workers and asked for partnerships to be built with civil society to expand access.
For improved health delivery in Africa, Brookings, in its health capacity report recommended that countries can attract new medical products by lowering their tariff rates on pharmaceuticals and expediting regulatory reviews of new drugs.