Despite research showing that 25% of the global healthcare burden sits on Africa, the continent only spends 1% of its GDP on healthcare annually and only has 3% of the world’s healthcare workforce.
This emerged from the seventh consecutive dialogue of the series, ‘The Philips African Dialogues’, held last week at the CNBC Africa studio in Johannesburg, South Africa.
In a continent where death stalks everyone who seeks medical care at state hospitals, and pregnant mothers have nine chances out of 10 to die while giving birth or see their babies die or both, these shocking figures will act as a wake-up call for governments of the 54 states to do more to change the face of healthcare in their respective countries.
“This paints the picture of what governments are faced with,” Jelco Van Der Avoort, manager for KPMG Healthcare advisory, said.
The discussion, anchored by CNBC Africa’s Samantha Loring, also heard that in Africa, in low income countries – such as DR Congo, Niger, Togo, Somalia, Zimbabwe and so on – life expectancy rate is 23 years lower compared to high income countries (such as South Africa, Mauritius and Tunisia).
The main focus of the dialogue, however, was the non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, heart-failure, cancer, among others, which Philips Healthcare Africa‘s Peter Van De Ven said were rife in Africa, but the continent’s infrastructure was not well equipped or good enough to deal with effectively.
“I believe this will be one of the major issues that Africa will face in the near future next to the enormous challenge in mother and child care, maternal mortality and child mortality,” Van De Ven said.
Some panellists firmly believe that a lot of money on Aids was being pumped into Africa at the expense of non-communicable diseases.
Furthermore, while many might assume that South Africa, as Africa’s largest economy, could stand out as having the best medical infrastructure capable of withstanding the storm of any disease, panellist Alex Van Den Heever brushed this assumption aside, saying that there are a lot of similarities between the experiences of South Africa and the rest of Africa.
“Part of the problem that we are seeing is not just the burden of disease, but it is the way in which the public systems are willing to cope efficiently with dealing with the problem,” he said.
“Africa is expanding, therefore it should actually be performing better. The key issue is the efficiency of the performance of the public system of a number of countries, including South Africa, is actually spending.”
South Africa is performing worst than many countries, he added.
Photo: A Celebration of Women