African Economic Research Consortium (AERC) Researcher, Dr Aloysius Mom Njong, has called for sustainable health reforms in Africa amid COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the World Health Organisation, there are 1 288 634 cumulative cases of coronavirus on the continent and 24 464 deaths.

Njong says there are some core norms that the health system should respect but unfortunately contemporary African health systems seem to lack behind their norms.

“These core health reform principles or norms will include financial sustainability and financial sustainability is the core principle, especially for African economies. A health system is financially sustainable when its expenditures are covered by revenues generated within the system. What we observe in African health systems is that health spending usually far exceeds the revenue that is generated thus forcing the health sector to largely depend on external financing.”

He says the dependent on external financing can never be sustainable and it always likely to increase the debt burden of a country.

“Normally in every economy you have some segment of the population that are vulnerable especially children, women and the physically challenged. These vulnerable groups do not have adequate access to health services, very health systems in Africa seem to address the plight of these vulnerable groups and therefore you always have gaps between the rich and the poor, widening in healthcare coverage and distribution of health care services in the country. The third co-principle is the effective and quality of health care delivery, we observe that healthcare systems in Africa do not seem to care much about quality of care or user satisfaction quality but we know that this is an important aspect that permits the healthcare system to move if it is cost-effective, where the health care resources are maximised. The fourth driver of health system reforms is the lack of good governance practices to ensure transparency and accountability in Africa’s health systems.”

In the Audio below, Dr Njong elaborates on the key considerations for policy reforms that support sustainable health care in Africa:

Njong says COVID-19 deaths in Africa are lower because the continent reacted swiftly to the pandemic.

He says poverty remains one of the challenges to healthcare delivery in Africa.