African countries urged to bolster their health systems

The coronavirus pandemic has shone the spotlight in Africa’s health system. FILE PHOTO (Claudio Furlan/LaPresse via AP)

The coronavirus pandemic has shone the spotlight in Africa’s health system. FILE PHOTO (Claudio Furlan/LaPresse via AP)

Published Aug 31, 2020


DURBAN - The Coronavirus pandemic has shone the spotlight in Africa’s health system. The World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Committee for Africa has stressed that the pandemic was a poignant reminder for countries to bolster health systems.

Health Ministers and representatives from African countries gathered this week for the seventieth session of the WHO Regional Committee for Africa, to assess the performance of health systems as part of efforts to attain universal health coverage.

Speaking at the virtual session, Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa, said: “The coronavirus pandemic has proven once again the importance of investing in health systems, enhancing equitable access to care and improving readiness to prevent and control outbreaks. Recovering from this pandemic will be incomplete without strong measures to bolster health systems. We must seize the opportunity and make the leap for a better tomorrow.”

Since Africa confirmed its first Covid-19 cases in February the continent has recorded more than 1.1 million cases. African governments have reinforced response measures, building on the early steps such as enhanced surveillance, detection and movement restrictions taken even before the virus hit the continent.

According to Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali, the virus has not only affected the health system, but also tested our way of living, societal norms and economies at large.

“In Africa, we quickly felt the impact of the pandemic due to our weak health systems coupled with the highest disease burden in the world. To minimize the impact of the pandemic, we are calling for improved Covid-19 response coordination, a common voice to ensure fair and equitable access to vaccines, diagnostics and treatment, and stronger health systems and public health emergency preparedness and response.”

The WHO assessment also recommended that member States find ways to increase public funding to develop health systems, explore initiatives to boost access to services, review and identify the needed health system investments set up measures to monitor the performance of health systems at the subnational level and enhance the efficiency of available funding, particularly donor, private and out-of-pocket funds.

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