What you need to know:
- The quality of health services in Africa was found to be low and considered the poorest performing indicator of UHC.
- It says only 49 per cent of African women have their demand for family planning satisfied by modern methods.
- It shows that the coverage of essential services needed by women and girls in Africa is low.
Only 48 per cent, approximately 615 million people, in Africa receive the health care they need.
This is according to a report by the independent Africa Health Agenda International Conference Commission (AHAIC) on the progress towards Universal Health Coverage.
The report, titled the State of Universal Health Coverage (UHC) in Africa, was compiled between November 2020 and March this year.
According to the report, Africa health systems are inadequately planned to meet the healthcare needs of the poor, disabled and other vulnerable groups, with coverage of essential health services in Africa being decidedly low.
The quality of health services in Africa was found to be low and considered the poorest performing indicator of UHC.
The report was unveiled during the biennial conference of health ministers, private sector leaders, civil society and representatives of multilateral organisations.
It says only 49 per cent of African women have their demand for family planning satisfied by modern methods, which shows that the coverage of essential services needed by women and girls in Africa is low.
Despite the dismal performance on some indicators, a number of data indications were positive. The number of people that are pushed into poverty due to out-of-pocket health care payments have gradually reduced, shows the report.
It highlights key opportunities that African countries can rely on to accelerate progress towards UHC, which include African leaders showing stronger political will, well-trained and competent health professionals and projected economic growth.
Skilled health workers
The commission recommends re-orienting health systems and their priorities to respond to population health needs; prioritising and strengthening primary health care as the foundation for UHC; investing in strengthening health system inputs through boosting the number of skilled health workers especially in primary health care; investing in health technologies to enhance the performance of all health system functions and strengthening governance and accountability.
Speaking after the launch of the report, Dr Githinji Gitahi, the Global CEO of Amref Health Africa, said: “The Covid-19 pandemic has pointed out the glaring gaps in African – and global – health systems and made a strong case for the urgent achievement of UHC. While progress towards achieving health for all has been slow, the current reality has reinvigorated countries’ efforts to ensure better access to quality, affordable health care.”
He added: “Through the State of UHC in Africa report and AHAIC 2021, we are hoping to provide a realistic roadmap that will guide African countries on their journeys to UHC and to ramp up support for greater multi-stakeholder collaboration across the continent, so that we can move from rhetoric to sustained action.”
The report acknowledges the impact of colonial legacies, poor governance and economic challenges on the continent’s health policies and outcomes.