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Report: Covid-19 pandemic exposes Africa's fragile healthcare system

A healthcare prepares a dose of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine from a vial outside a polling station in Laudium, Pretoria, on November 1, 2021,   -  
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PHILL MAGAKOE/AFP or licensors


The current health crisis has exposed the fragile nature of health systems in Africa according to a new report from the Mo Ibrahim Foundation.

One of the main challenges facing health systems is the lack of data in some countries.

The report further indicated that more than 50% of children in Africa do not have a legal existence because they were not registered at birth.

Moreover, on the continent, only 10% of deaths are officially registered, against 98% in Europe.

These low rates pose a problem at a time when countries around the world are meticulously recording people who have died from Covid.

According to the report, African countries that have the highest general death rates are also those that are recording the highest numbers of covid cases.

Another problem raised by the report is access to healthcare, which is already expensive on the continent.

In 2021, only 10 of the African countries offer free and universal health care to their citizens and these include Algeria, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Gabon, Mauritius, Namibia, Rwanda, Seychelles, Tunisia and Zambia.

Yet, in 2001, in Abuja, Nigeria, a member country of the African Union committed to devoting at least 15% of their budget to the health sector. But in 2018, no African country has managed to meet this commitment.

The five African countries where public health expenditure is less than 3% of total government spending include Benin, Cameroon, Comoros, Eritrea and South Sudan.

Finally, the report highlights a major problem: the brain drain in the medical sector in Africa.

This situation is aggravated by Covid-19: to reinforce their medical staff, several Western countries have approached several foreign doctors, particularly Africans. This is the case of the United States which, at the end of March 2020 recruited 8,600 Egyptian doctors.

Each African country spends between $21,000 and $59,000 to train a doctor. Each year, it is estimated that Africa loses about $2.0 billion to this brain drain.

Meanwhile, countries such as the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, and Canada are saving a total of $4.6 billion in training costs from hiring these African-trained doctors.

In total, by 2030, Africa will have a shortage of 6.1 million people working in the medical sector.