A nation can only thrive when all of its sectors are stable and experiencing remarkable progress. While this is a benchmark for evaluating growth in other regions of the world, this is yet to be a reality in Africa. In Africa, various sectors and economies of her nations are not witnessing significant growth and development including the health systems. If not addressed urgently, the results may be devastating.
Owing to its fragility, health systems in Africa are surmounted with several setbacks and shortfalls that are ravaging it. This, however, is a result of various factors tied to bad policies, poor governance, low quality of health infrastructure, the paucity of regulatory frameworks, lack or dearth of funding, and inadequate workforce. Just as other health systems of the different regions of the world, it is necessary for health systems in Africa to meet up with the increasing demands of the continent and to ensure that healthcare delivery is not affected in the event of any disease outbreak or unprecedented occurrence.
For instance, ever since the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic in Africa, it has brought to the limelight a lot of loopholes in the healthcare system that need to be tackled such as access to healthcare, antimicrobial resistance (AMR), workforce capacity, etc. These have placed more burden and contributed exponentially to the quality of the health systems in Africa. These have invariably affected the actualization of the Universal Health Coverage (UHC) in Africa which aims to ensure that everyone has fair access to health care services irrespective of age, gender, race, or financial capacity.
Although most countries in the Region had developed and implemented health sector reforms, including Sector-Wide Approaches (SWAps) to certain levels in the last ten years, many factors continued to impede the reform process. These include weak institutional and human resource capacities, the brain drain phenomenon, lack of incentives, inefficient use of potential national expertise, weak coordination of partners in health development, frequent and often inconsistent changes in government policies, inadequate legislation, weak accountability and lack of transparency, and non-maximization of international agreements and regulations.
New ways of thinking and working, underpinned by complex adaptive systems and building local organizational capacity, offer the potential for developing a strengthened, sustainable, and people-centered health systems in Africa.
However, there is a need to graduate from a primary focus on reductionist approaches and instead direct efforts to systems approaches that improve institutions and help enhance organizational capacity in the region, as well as develop local leadership and innovative solutions. Only then can we expect to develop strengthened health systems that can efficiently and equitably address the disease burden and poor healthcare quality faced by countries in Africa.