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Experts Advocate Regional Collaboration, Creation of Innovative Policies Among African Countries to drive UHC

… as FutureProofing Health Index Participated in CPHIA

FutureProofing Healthcare (FPH) and its panelists have advocated closer regional collaboration among African countries and the creation of innovative policies to drive universal health coverage (UHC) for the populace in the continent.

In spite of being a fundamental factor to help actualise needed change, data from the Africa Sustainability Index has revealed that regional collaboration is an area where Africa lags behind on a global scale.

The recommendation of the panelist was highlighted during the first International Conference on Public Health in Africa (CPHIA) in which the FutureProofing Healthcare (FPH) and its expert panel members participated.

The conference which was hosted by the Africa CDC, similarly identified the disparity in healthcare personnel across the African region.

The session highlighted four key areas of action to drive UHC: closer regional collaboration, re-prioritising healthcare spending, technologies to improve healthcare delivery, and improving gender equality in healthcare

The event took place virtually from December 14 to 16, 2021 and provided African researchers, policymakers, and stakeholders with a platform to share scientific findings and public health perspectives.

The participants further collaborated on research, innovation and public health across the continent.

As part of its continued commitment to creating new, sustainable health systems, FPH recently launched its newest whitepaper, a best practice document that focuses on solutions and policy actions to prepare African health systems for the future.

The FPH whitepaper is a result of data collected as part of the Africa Sustainability Index – a policy tool that measures the current status of health systems across the content.

The whitepaper aims to address how systems can be adapted for sustainable improvement. It will enable various health stakeholders to move forward constructively and efficiently, to create a more sustainable future for African healthcare and drive Africans closer to UHC.

Speaking at the conference, Mah-Sere Keita, Director of Programme at the African Society for Laboratory Medicine said, “Regional collaboration boosts overall healthcare capacity and create an innovative eco-system in Africa and enables a stronger connection between private and public sector, which is critical to private public partnerships to increase innovation.”

Furthering gender equality through healthcare systems

The Index shows differences across the continent in health status between men and women. Access to reproductive healthcare and family planning is lagging in many African countries, meaning young African women are often the most affected by limited healthcare systems.

Prof Glenda Gray, President and CEO of the South African Medical Research Council and part of the Africa Sustainability Index, explained “South Africa and other African countries are far from achieving gender equity and this is important, because we need to encourage African countries to reframe gender equity as a human right and context this as a long-term index that we need to achieve.”

Using technology to speed up system-level changes and improve health delivery

The Africa Sustainability Index revealed variations throughout the continent in access to and quality of healthcare services. Quality and access must be approached holistically to make a significant impact towards UHC.

UNDP Ghana’s Head of Exploration Accelerator Lab Seth Akumani served on the panel, noting, “Beyond the Index, we need to create collaborative networks, where we learn from each other and share best practices to support innovators, policy officials and other policy stakeholders to improve the healthcare systems.”

Re-prioritise healthcare spending to address system gaps

Financing is not always directly correlated with a positive performance on access or quality. The Index suggests there is sometimes little difference in how African countries finance their healthcare system.

Olumide Okunola, Senior Health Specialist at World Bank Nigeria said, “People need to make strategic policy choices and the index points to how we should reprioritise funding in the healthcare sector. UHC can’t be achieved in a non-linear manner – policymakers need to address issues of fiscal constraints.”

 

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