By Royal Ibeh,
Nigeria needs strong economic, political stability and innovation, to fully recover from the aftermath effect of COVID-19, as its health system is currently facing acute pressure from the pandemic, leading to high rates of maternal and neonatal mortality, a report has revealed.
The FutureProofing Healthcare initiative, an initiative designed to enable data-driven dialogue about the future of healthcare, launched the Africa Sustainability Index at the 2021 Africa Health Agenda International Conference (AHAIC). Findings of the Africa Sustainability Index revealed that Nigeria topped medical care utilization, as the people of Nigeria said it is ‘easy’ to access medical care in the country, making Nigeria a champion of Universal Health Coverage (UHC) in Africa region and reflecting few barriers to treatment.
With the role of laboratories becoming increasingly critical for health, Nigeria ranks first, suggesting effective quality management systems. Like Angola, the index revealed that Nigeria performs well in responding to emerging health threats, leading the continent in its COVID-19 response stringency and also in testing cases of tuberculosis for multiple drug resistance.
Despite this, the index shows that mortality rates from communicable diseases including water-borne illness and diarrhoeal disease are high in Nigeria and there is a high incidence of viral hepatitis and malaria in the country, due to the pandemic. The index also revealed that Nigeria faces low rates of infant vaccination and high rates of maternal and neonatal mortality, adding that, there is a considerable deficit in the availability of health care personnel combined with allied factors such as poor access to clean water, political instability and adult gender literacy gaps which accentuate the problems in the ecosystem.
To fully recover from these challenges, global experts, at the AHAIC, however, called on the Nigerian government and policymakers to use data from the Index to inform policies that help health systems continue to manage and ultimately recover from the pandemic.
President and CEO, South African Medical Research Council, Prof. Glenda Gray, said, “Unless we analyse the consequences of the COVID crisis, it has the potential to increase healthcare inequity, costs and inefficiency. Yet, if harnessed, it can mean better healthcare for all in more sustainable and resilient health systems. There are actions that every country can take to start on this journey today. We must work together immediately to rebuild better and give African people the care that they deserve.”
In the same vein, the CEO of Amref and Africa Sustainability Index panellist, Githinji Gitahi, said, sustainable healthcare is a key element on the journey towards Universal Health Coverage and will impact millions of lives in Africa. To achieve sustainable healthcare, Gitahi said the Sustainability Index is a useful tool in guiding stakeholders in the healthcare ecosystem on where to focus efforts, make improvements and identify best practices from other countries.
Led by a panel of 10 independent African healthcare experts, the first-of-its-kind, data-driven policy tool measures the current status of health systems in 18 countries across Africa and provides valuable context as countries across the continent determine how to accelerate universal health coverage (UHC) goals and progress on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Countries included in the Index are Algeria, Angola, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Libya, Morocco, Mozambique, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa, Sudan, Tanzania, Tunisia and Zambia. The FutureProofing Healthcare Africa Sustainability Index presents an objective view of how health systems are currently performing and is intended to inform policies that promote sustainability and resiliency for the future. Through publicly available data, the Index examines 76 different measures split across six categories called Vital Signs. These Vital Signs: ‘Access, Financing, Innovation, Quality, Health Status and Wider Factors of Health’, provide a holistic view of the fundamental drivers of sustainable healthcare systems.
The Index also compares approaches between countries, identifies elements that lead to more sustainable care and promotes best practices through a future-focused analysis of real-world solutions. The Index highlighted economic strength and political stability as key drivers behind overall performance in healthcare sustainability and all countries analysed have numerous areas of opportunity for improvement.
Article first published on Head Topics Nigeria