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Healthcare systems deteriorate—study

MATEMBA—More needs to be done

Healthcare systems continue to deteriorate in the country a new data analysis of Afrobarometer survey shows.

The survey findings released on April 3 2020 indicate that 59 percent of respondents said the current government has not done enough in improving basic health services.

These findings from 34 African countries, released before the World Health Day which falls on April 7, provide a pre-Covid-19 snapshot of Africans’ experiences and assessments of public healthcare systems.

The analysis was premised on six indicators of citizens’ experiences with healthcare: going without needed care, not having a clinic within easy reach, encountering difficulties in obtaining care, having to wait a long time or never receiving care, and having to pay a bribe to obtain care.

“Key findings of the report have shown that Africans were divided as to whether their countries have made progress in providing medical care…about half of citizens said things have deteriorated in Malawi (51%), Gabon (50%), and Niger (49%),” reads the report in part.

Across the continent, citizens identify health as the second-most-important national problem they want their governments to address.

“Liberia and Uganda are among the worst performers on five of the six indicators, ranking above the bottom third only on proximity of clinics. Madagascar and Malawi rank in the bottom third in four areas.

“Overall, governments received mixed scores for their performance on improving basic health services: significant declines were observed most dramatically in Zimbabwe (-26 points), Malawi (-24 points), and Mauritius (-21 points),” the report further reads.

Commenting on the matter, health rights activist, Maziko Matemba, said the coming of the Covid-19 pandemic has further revealed gaps that have been there in the health care system.

“Most of facilities are overcrowded and the report should be able to help on how we can improve our healthcare system. On a positive note, we as a country we have managed to train more health workers and pleasing to note is that we are able to train over 50 medical doctors yearly. The problem comes in on recruitment. So yes the report reflects well on real issues that we are facing as a country,” he said.

Speaking in Lilongwe during a press briefing Minister of Health, Jappie Mhango, said challenges are there but was quick to mention that President Peter Mutharika’s announcement to have 2, 000 healthcare workers recruited with immediate effect will reduce some challenges.

“We still have some training gaps but we are working on that. Supplies such as oxygen concentrators and ventilators are also not enough. We have provided some to our tertiary health facilities but is still required. Additional infrastructure is also required,” he said.

Afrobarometer is a pan-African, nonpartisan survey research network that provides reliable data on African experiences and evaluations of democracy, governance, and quality of life. Seven rounds of surveys were completed in up to 38 countries between 1999 and 2018.

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