Good News on ‘African Solutions to African Problems’ in Health: SMS, Bike Ambulances, and Pregnancy Hostels

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

At the end of this week a high level ministerial meeting will take place in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa, to discuss how to fix the shortage of health workers on the continent.

Estimates say the continent needs over 1.8 million health professionals to meet the demand.

Meanwhile the World Health Organisation (WHO) last said Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, which are all experiencing a resurgence of the deadly hemorrhagic fever Ebola, have budgeted over $2 billion between them to restore their health systems – money which they don’t.

While problems in Africa’s health sector can sometimes seem daunting, away from these dramatic headlines and epidemics, the continent has actually seen marked improvements in health outcomes during the past decade. There has been a considerable decline in child, maternal and adult mortality rates, and substantial decreases in the burdens of several diseases.

Life expectancy at birth, for example, improved from 50 years in 1990 to 56 years in 2011, as many countries have managed to stem new HIV infections, and get antiretroviral treatment to those who need it. Under-five mortality, too, fell from 173 to 95 per 1,000 live births, and infant mortality from 105 to 63 per 1,000.

Some of this has been due to demographic and economic change and improved political stability, leading to fewer conflicts. But much has also been due to sustained efforts to prevent illness and maintain good health, improve access to treatment when illness does occur, and to find ways to deliver a better level of health care in the African context.

Drawing from the WHO’s African Regional Health Report 2014, we take a look at some of the effective – and sometimes, surprisingly simple – interventions around the continent that helped reverse the tide in Africa’s health story:

Source: Mail & Guardian Africa (link opens in a new window)

Health Care