A public health physician, Professor Irene Akua Agyepong, has said a robust health system is required as a vehicle for the delivery of interventions needed to ensure equitable and accessible healthcare for the sub-Saharan Africa.
She said that, sub-Saharan governments must commit more resources to develop the health systems and structures to ensure universal access to primary healthcare.
“The health system is the foundation on which the delivery of many health-related interventions rest,” she noted.
Prof. Agyepong, a public health systems researcher with the Ghana Health Service was presenting a paper here in Niamey, Niger at a colloquium on neglected problems of health systems in Africa, attended by public health professionals from sub -Saharan Africa.
It was organised by public health tin-tank, Laboratiore d’ estudes er de recherches sur les Dynamiques Sociales et le Development (LASDEL), with support from the International Development Research Centre.
Delivering a paper on ‘Universal Public Health Care (PHC) coverage and financial protection in sub-Saharan Africa’, Prof Agyepong, stressed on the need for African government to mobilise resources within for the health sector rather than relying on donor partners.
“The energy must come from within, donor expectations and funds are a catalyst , it cannot be relied upon for the long-term,” she said , adding “If you do not have energy to develop, nobody can develop you”.
Prof. Agyepong stressed on the need to pool resources for effective and efficient utilisation for delivering of interventions for universal primary healthcare.
“Much funding in the sub-Saharan African countries appears to be in fragmented pools in individual facilities and at different levels of health,” Prof. Agyepong noted.
“We should have central place for equitable distribution and effective use, the resource should go where it is supposed to go,” she emphasised.
She observed that the poor household tended to spend more to access health care.
The Ghanaian public health physician said though maternal and child mortality was dropping in the region, it was slower, stressing the need for the region to catch up fast with the rest of the world.
“We have been doing well since 2000 with the Millennium Development Goals, we are dropping fast enough in terms of maternal and child mortality rates, to catch up with the rest of the world,” Prof Agyepong said
Citing sources from the World Health Organisation and World Health Statistics, Prof. Agyepong observed a low level of usage of medical products and technology, emphasising the need to commit more resources to build capacities and increase use of advanced medical technologies to catch up with the rest of the world.
Dr. Keita Namoudou, the West African Health Organisation in-charge of Public Health Care Surveillance System, who chaired the session called for intensified research to inform public policies.
From Salifu Abdul-Rahaman, Niamey