The attainment of universal health coverage (UHC) in Africa is in peril due to disruptions triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic and inadequate financing, a new report has said.
According to the State of UHC in Africa report, only 48 per cent of the continent’s population, or about 615 million people, have been able to access quality healthcare services.
This is as countries grapple with the negative impacts of the pandemic that include income losses.
The report was launched in Nairobi on the sidelines of the 2021 Africa Health Agenda International Conference (AHAIC), taking place virtually between March 8 and March 10.
“The COVID-9 pandemic has pointed at glaring gaps in African and global health systems and made a strong case for the urgent achievement of UHC,’’ said Githinji Gitahi, CEO of Nairobi-based Amref Health Africa.
The report should serve as a wake-up call for governments, donors and industry to channel additional resources toward the health-for-all agenda, he said.
“Through the State of UHC in Africa report, we are hoping to provide a realistic roadmap that will guide African countries on their journeys to UHC.
“The roadmap will also ramp up greater multi-stakeholder collaboration across the continent so that we can move from rhetoric to sustained action,’’ Mr Gitahi said.
A 19-member AHAIC commission compiled the report to take stock of the progress the continent has achieved toward attaining health-for-all goals.
Colonial legacy, outdated policies, low technological adoption, poverty and a rising disease burden are derailing efforts to ensure all African citizens have access to quality healthcare services, the report said.
It said only 49 per cent of African women and girls had access to modern contraceptives in 2015-2019.
It stressed that policy reforms, political goodwill, innovations and robust investments are required to hasten progress toward attaining health-for-all goals in the continent.
“The health strengthening efforts made in response to COVID-19 provide an opportunity for African countries to make comprehensive investments in health that will strengthen the foundation for UHC,’’ the report said.
Africa can leverage on the demographic dividend, the establishment of a continental free trade area and a large pool of trained workforce to revamp healthcare systems, it said.
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