Healthcare reform has received significant attention in recent years due to increased awareness of social injustices worldwide and the recognition of the strong relationship between population health and economic growth. Health reform has also been ignited in many countries by the United Nations Millennium Development Goals to combat poverty, hunger, disease, illiteracy, environmental degradation, and discrimination against women for which all 191 UN member states have agreed to try to achieve by the year 2015.
The ultimate goal for many health reform initiatives is the concept of universal coverage, which is defined by the World Health Organisation as access to key promotive, preventive, curative and rehabilitative health interventions for all at an affordable cost, thereby achieving equity in access. In tandem with this goal is the need to reduce the probability of catastrophic health expenditure by achieving equity in financing.
For most countries, the achievement of these goals requires large scale reforms in various sectors and the initiatives taken will depend largely on the conditions prevailing with each country. Health reform should be recognised as a lengthy process that requires thorough consideration of all the factors that contribute to the development of an enabling environment. It is therefore essential that Governments take a step back and assess their current circumstances and thereafter, implement reasonable steps towards the achievement of their objectives. This should be done bearing in mind that the process will require refinement and adaptation as conditions change.
Where is Africa on the road to healthcare reform?
The pressures of reform for African countries are intensified by the high burden of disease, which is exacerbated by poor living conditions and lack of access to quality care. Health statistics for African countries as a whole are poor in comparison to the rest of the world and efforts for reform are problematic given the typical issues faced by low & middle income countries.
However, although these countries may be starting off on the back foot, they benefit from rapid economic growth and the ability to learn from the experiences of other countries. Furthermore, the blank slate that many of the African countries had to face has provided the opportunity for innovation to flourish.
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For a more detailed discussion on healthcare reform in Africa, contact Ashleigh Theopanides at email@example.com
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