WHO-AFRO shows improvement in state of health

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    By Maxwell Awumah, GNA Correspondent, Dakar,
    Senegal

    Dakar, Senegal, August 31, GNA – A new report by
    the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Africa Regional Office (AFRO) shows
    improvement in the state of health in the region.

    There has been a 50 percent reduction in the
    burden of disease caused by the top 10 killers since 2000 and death rates have
    dropped from 87.7 to 51.1 deaths per 100,000 persons between 2000 and 2015.

    This trend is continuing, with emerging data
    on healthy life expectancy showing a continued improvement.

    The State of Health in Africa report provides
    a comprehensive overview of the state of health in the region, the related
    services people need, the performance of their health systems and analyzes what
    impacts these have on general health of people in the region.

    Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO’s Regional Director
    for Africa in Dakar at a side event of the 68th session of the WHO Regional
    Committee for Africa launched the report.

    This achievement can only be sustained and
    expanded if countries significantly improve the way essential health services
    are delivered to the people who need them most.

    According to the report, life expectancy
    increased from 50.9 years to 53.8 between 2012 and 2015 – the most marked
    increase of any region in the world.

    The top killers are still lower respiratory
    infections, HIV and diarrhoeal disease and countries have routinely focused on
    preventing and treating these diseases usually through specialised programmes.

    Dr Moeti said “I’m proud that Africans are now
    living longer and healthier lives. Nearly three years of extra health is a gift
    that makes us all proud. Of course we hope that these gains will continue and
    the region will reach global standards. “

    The report postulates that chronic diseases
    like heart disease and cancer are now claiming more lives between the 30 to 70
    age bracket with a one in five chance of dying from a non-communicable
    diseases. (NCDs).

    The report indicates adolescents and the
    elderly are being neglected by their countries in the provision of essential
    services with a third of respondents surveyed as part of the report affirmed
    these.

     “Health
    services must keep up with the evolving health trends in the region. We need to
    develop a new and more holistic approach to health,” she adds.

     The
    report finds that people, health institutions and resources needed to deliver
    health-related services are only performing at 49 percent of their joint
    potential capacity.

    Health systems are still not providing people
    with the range of services they need, and they are not able to withstand shocks
    when they are challenged by outbreaks.

    It said averagely, only two physicians and
    15.5 hospital beds were available per 10 000 people.

    The report noted that averagely 39 percent of
    health budgets were spent on medical products, with health workforce recording
    14 percent while expenditure on infrastructure remained at seven percent.

    Spending patterns suggests that countries with
    good performing health systems invested up to 40 percent on the health
    workforce and 33 percent on infrastructure.

    The report suggests countries place more focus
    on the performance of their systems, to achieve cross cutting and sustainable
    improvements in universal health coverage and other targets influencing health
    across the sustainable development goals (SDGs).

    The report also notes specific countries where
    good practices can be explored across different areas of health, including
    Algeria (good coverage of available health services), Cabo Verde (good
    community demand for essential services, and resilience of health systems);
    Kenya (good range of available essential services); Mauritius (good access to
    services); Namibia (good financial risk protection); Seychelles (good coverage
    of health related services) and South Africa (good health security).

    Specific recommendations for each of the 47
    countries of the region are made in the report and countries with good
    practices were identified to influence standards across the different
    dimensions of universal health coverage and other SDG health targets.

    GNA

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