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The United Nations Millennium Development Goals 2014 Report was launched on the 7th of July simultaneously globally. The report is an annual assessment of the progress made towards the goals globally and regionally. It was compiled by 27 UN and international agencies and produced by the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs. At the event in Lagos, Mr. Oluseyi Soremekun, the National Information Officer, UNIC presented some of the key facts from the report, stating that considerable progress was being made globally. Speaking of Nigeria, he said the country’s also making progress, although there is more progress recorded in some areas than others. Some of the facts he stated are below:
- 700 million people saved from extreme poverty
- 140 million people from hunger
- 1 in 4 children still suffer under-nutrition, although chronic hunger has been eradicated
- Target at half and close to being achieved.
- Gender parity reached in gender education.as at 2012, 98 girls to every 100 boys enrolled in primary education
- Many children are still denied the right to primary education, with 1 in 4 children in developing countries likely to drop out of school.
- There are about 58 million children out of school, half of them from conflict-affected regions
- Child mortality fell by 50%
- 6.6 million children under the age of 5 die from preventable diseases especially Pneumonia, Diarrhea and Malaria, before their 5th birthday
- Maternal mortality reduced
- 9.5 million people receiving HIV treatment in developing treatment
- 6.6 million receiving ART since 1995
- 56 million free of TB, saving 22 million lives
- Over 700 million bed nets delivered to Sub-Saharan Africa
- Drinking water target reached
- 89% of the world’s population have access to good water, up from 74% in 1990
- Over 2.6 billion people have access to drinking water
- Over 2.5 billion people don’t have access to sanitation
- Official development assistance reached the highest level ($138 billion)
- 17 out of 28 donors worldwide increased their commitment
- Fair reach
- Goal likely to be achieved
- Policies supporting goal are average
- Strong reach
- Goal very likely to be achieved
- Policies supporting goal are very strong
- Fair reach
- Goal likely to be achieved
- Policies supporting goal are average
- Poor reach
- Goal not likely to be achieved
- No policies supporting achievement of goal
- Target met
- Strong policies supporting goal
H.E Mr. Daouda Toure, Resident Coordinator of the UN System in Nigeria was represented by Ms. Colleen Zamba, Economic Advisor at the UNDP Nigeria. She stated that significant progress is being made in Nigeria, stating that Nigeria is a leader in the continent in the achievement of the MDGs. She acknowledged that while progress is being made, there are still areas to be improved upon and that the United Nations is working closely with the Federal Government of Nigeria to ensure the attainment of the Goals. She also stated that a new set of goals incorporating some overlooked areas and some unattained goals will be introduced into the Post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals.
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Ghana’s Minister for Health, Ms. Sherry Ayittey has disclosed that government is initiating plans to gradually construct teaching hospitals in all the 10 regions of Ghana. This will allow for the training and retention of adequate numbers of medical doctors in the regions.
Ms Ayittey made the disclosure at a ceremony held at the Bolgatanga Regional Hospital in the Upper East region during which she cut the sod for the reconstruction of the regional hospital. She noted that the reconstruction of the hospital into a modern one with cutting edge health equipment is to enable it provide secondary and tertiary health care services to the people of the region as well as to patients from neighbouring Burkina Faso and Togo.
The Saudi Fund for Development is the main financier of the project which is scheduled to be completed within 18 months.
The Health Minister who further revealed that government’s vision is to increase the bed capacity of each regional hospital to 240, said discussions between the Ghana Government and the Saudi Authorities for the reconstruction of the Bolgatanga Regional Hospital were sealed in 2008 at which time 12 million US Dollars was released for the commencement of phase one works. She, however, noted that only one-third of the total contract sum of 48 million US Dollars has so far been secured while the needed procedural steps are being taken for the release of the outstanding balance.
According to Ms Ayittey, the project manager has been directed to roll out a comprehensive maintenance programme that will train the Ghanaian health staff on the proper handling, usage and best maintenance methods of the new modern equipment and apparatus that will be installed at the facility. She appealed to the contractor, Berock Ventures Limited to do everything possible to complete all necessary works by the 20th January, 2015 deadline.
Upon completion, the hospital will have a modern blood bank with appropriate refrigerators, new Ear-Nose & Throat Unit, Eye Department, Neo-natal Care Unit, a specialised Accident and Emergency Unit, a Modern Dental Clinic and a state-of-the-art Intensive Care Unit among others.
Ms Ayittey promised the hospital’s staff that her ministry would source additional funding for the construction of staff accommodation units, procurement of power stations as well as put up a new morgue, workshops and a modern laundry facility for the hospital.
Mr Ashraf Hassan who spoke on behalf of the Royal Saudi Embassy said works on the project started in 2010 with the Saud Consult providing the needed technical advice and support to the contractor.
He said the reconstruction of the hospital would give it a bed capacity of 175 with supporting diagnostic facilities such as CT Scan, MRI unit and an improved pharmacy among others.
The sod cutting ceremony attracted several dignitaries including the Upper East Regional Director of Health, Dr. J. Koku Awoonor-Williams and his staff, some Municipal and District Chief Executives, health development partners, paramount chiefs, heads of decentralised departments and the land owners on whose land the hospital is situated.
By Ike Chioke, Friends Africa Global Health Champion and CEO AFRINVEST West Africa
A financial windfall in the health sector can only be a reality if healthcare evolves from a social concept to a business opportunity. This ideology can be revamped with the design of policies that rapidly incorporate investment prerogatives into key segments of the healthcare industry while providing a conducive environment for investors.
Did you know?
The African continent has 6 out of the 10 fastest growing economies in the world and is a vital player in the global resource space. Ironically, the continent has the highest disease burden in the world. To further narrow the scope, Sub-Saharan Africa makes up 11.0% of the world’s population but accounts for 24.0% of the global disease burden according to the International Finance Corporation (IFC).
Grappling with rising population, Africa has significantly low health care spending, government-run facilities are far from cutting edge, skilled health workers and vital medicines are in short supply, and there are persistent geographical disparities between urban and rural settlements.
Advocating an Investment Perspective for Healthcare Delivery
In a bid to address these challenges in healthcare and in line with the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), 53 African countries signed the Abuja Declaration, pledging to devote 15.0% of their annual budgets to healthcare. However, while a universal fiscal coverage may be the best solution, the associated cost burden leaves the government significantly out of pocket.
Concurrently, private participation in African economies, i.e. Ghana, Gambia, South Africa, India etc. has improved significantly within the last decade with the emergence of health insurance schemes These schemes, however, cover a miniscule percentage of the population, e.g. India currently has a population of 1.2 billion and a scheme that covers approximately 240 million citizens (i.e. 19.0% of the population) while the state spends 4.0% of GDP on health. Nigeria has a population of 170 million, a health scheme that covers approximately 20 million citizens, i.e. 11.8% of the population, which is privately and publicly funded and allocates 6.1% of the budget to the health sector.
To fast track development processes, it is believed that the development of a vibrant healthcare delivery system cannot be possible without an effective workforce. Hence, private institutions are advised to partner with leading health advocacy organizations to equip healthcare workers and civil society groups with skills to deliver quality health care services. One of such partnerships can be gleaned from Afrinvest’s role in partnering with Friends Africa to train well over 60 Grassroots NGOs from 26 African countries during its Grassroots NGO Capacity Building Seminar” in Accra, Ghana.
Healthcare Financing Gaps and Investment Opportunities
The healthcare financing system in Africa is poor, to say the least. As already established, public spending on health is insufficient, and international donor funding is becoming increasingly difficult to sustain in the current global economic climate. However, the opportunities for private sector health investment in Africa have never been better, with Sub-Saharan African countries recording an unbroken pattern of economic growth in the past few years.
The healthcare market is large and diverse, with a value chain comprised of equipment manufacturers, pharmaceutical companies, distributors & retailers, health service providers, health ﬁnancing entities, and medical education providers. The entire value chain is in need of investment and areas where growth is likely to boom include but are not limited to the following:
Primary care – Rising population and largely underserved areas make this a good investment option.
Hospitals – Several business models exist for this from management contracts to joint ventures with local, public, or private entities to wholly foreign ownership of new and existing facilities.
Specialist Care Facilities – There is a dearth of centers for specialized care treatment like Assisted Fertility, Orthopaedics, Burns, Cancer Care, etc.
Technology & Information Systems – Given the size of the continent and shortage of skilled health workers, telemedicine can help bridge the gap in healthcare and good information management systems are key to better clinical care coordination, hospital administration and resource management.
It is estimated that Sub-Saharan Africa’s healthcare market will spike to $35.0bn by 2016. This figure is set to increase even further in the years ahead, fuelled by both domestic and international investments as well as an ever-increasing demand for healthcare.
The transformation of the African healthcare system into a more viable industry ought to be driven by consistent structural and socio-political reforms over a sustained period. Policy-makers would have to take a cue from other emerging and developed economies, such as India, Brazil and the U.K. on how to tackle healthcare challenges at the institutional level and at the grassroots.
In addition, the relationship between the public and private sectors should be enhanced through a combination of drastic reforms that create a burgeoning market for investors, while placing health care at the core of development. We are certain that a combination of these steps will leapfrog investment in health and lead to quality healthcare delivery for Africans.
Ike Chioke is a Friends Africa Global Health Champion and CEO AFRINVEST West Africa
Friends Africa and GBCHealth will jointly host a private sector forum themed “Capitalizing on Competencies to Eliminate Malaria and Accelerate Impact on Maternal and Child Health” on Tuesday, July 2, 2014* with key speakers from Abt Associates, Access Bank, Chevron Nigeria, Federal Ministry of Health, Nigeria and so many more!
This forum will examine how corporate workplace and community malaria programs can support national strategies in Nigeria’s push to achieve the MDGs. The forum will also highlight where and how integration of malaria with maternal and child health interventions can accelerate progress in improving health outcomes.
For enquiries, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Despite activists’ pleas, Minister of Health Dr Aaron Motsoaledi has not joined almost 800 health workers and experts in supporting the call to declare drug-resistant tuberculosis (DR-TB) a public health emergency.
A member of the Treatment Action Campaign holds a ballot box at the South African TB Conference. Motsoaledi did not cast his vote to declare drug-resisitant TB a public health emergency at the conference’s close.
Motsoaledi failed to cast a ballot either in favour or against the civil society proposition that the country’s growing DR-TB epidemic be declared an emergency at the close of the South African TB Conference Friday, 13 June in Durban.
This comes after public interest group Section27 release astatement late Thursday saying that it expected Motsoaledi to support the call it issued via a memorandum on 10 June alongside the Treatment Action Campaign and Doctors Without Borders.
The memorandum was delivered to South African TB Conference chair Dr. Bavesh Kana and demanded that DR-TB be declared a public health emergency with adequate, ring-fenced funding, better Department of Health reporting on it as well as the use of novel approaches to manage the response.
More than half of the conference’s 1200 delegates including KwaZulu-Natal Health MEC Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo, television presenter Gerry Rantseli-Elsdon and South African National AIDS Council (SANAC) head Dr. Fareed Abdullah voted to support the memorandum at the meeting.
According to research presented at the conference last week, common TB cases may be falling.
DR-TB, including multidrug-resistant (MDR-TB), are rising, according to Dr Norbert Ndjeka, who heads the Department of Health’s division on HIV, TB and drug resistant TB.
“Last year alone we had more than 10,000 (MDR-TB) cases,” Ndjeka told Health-e News. “I would not be surprised if in 2014 we diagnosed 15000 cases or even more.”
MDR-TB is resistant to both of the most commonly used anti-TB drugs and takes at least four times longer to cure than common TB.
According to Abdullah, whether or not DR-TB is officially declared an emergency or not – the emergency is clear.
“Whether one use the hard-hitting of language of activists who put slogans on placards or you use the dry language of statistics, we all have no doubt that we have a crisis of mortality,”said Abdullah who added that 75 percent ofextensively drug-resistant TB patients are dead within five years – a death rate much higher than that associated with cancer.
Abdullah helped introduce HIV treatment into the Western Cape before it was approved for national use under former Health Minister Dr Manto Tshabalala-Msimang.
“I want us all to be reminded of the dark decade of denialism that we had in this country with respect to antiretroviral treatment,” he said. “It behoves us all to avoid a situation like that with the current struggle we are facing with TB.”
Sam K. Kutesa, Uganda’s minister for foreign affairs has been unanimously elected by acclamation as President of the 69th Session of the United Nations General Assembly.
Kutesa was elected at 3.00pm New York time, which was 10.00pm in Uganda on Wednesday.
A statement sent by Fred Opolot, the ministry of foreign affairs spokesman said Kutesa underlined that his election reflected the international community’s recognition of Uganda’s positive role and contribution, throughout its fifty two-year membership, to the work of the United Nations.
Others are enhancing cooperation between the United Nations and regional and sub-regional organizations; promotion of peaceful settlement of disputes and peace-building; enhancement of the Alliance of Civilisations; and advancement of gender equality and empowerment of women.
Despite significant gains, the HIV/AIDS epidemic is far from over, United Nations officials said today, calling for greater political commitment, investment and innovation to end the global scourge.
“Having put forward so much investment and effort by all stakeholders – and with so many lives still on the line – it is a moral imperative to seize the opportunity of getting the job done,” John Ashe, President of the General Assembly, told the 193-member body’s annual review of progress in tackling HIV/AIDS.
“With continued political commitment, investment and innovation, we can make great strides toward ending AIDS and take a giant step toward creating a healthier and more prosperous human family, living on a sustainable planet.”
In his latest report on the issue, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon outlines progress achieved in the 10 target areas designed to halt and reverse the spread of HIV and AIDS by the end of 2015, as set out three years ago by world leaders in the 2011 Political Declaration.
“The report sends a clear message,” said Mr. Ashe. “The global solidarity and joint efforts of the international community are yielding significant gains against the epidemic, and bringing about an historic opportunity to lay the foundation for ending AIDS.
“However, AIDS will remain a global challenge beyond 2015, and sustained commitment and efforts will be required if we are indeed to defeat this scourge,” he added.
He noted in particular that the number of new HIV infections is still unacceptably high, at 2.3 million in 2012. Also, more than half of people in need of anti-retroviral treatment do not have access to it – with a glaring gap in access to paediatric treatment.
In his remarks, the Secretary-General said that the world is making “solid headway” in meeting some of the targets and commitments from the 2011 Political Declaration, such as expanding treatment access, eliminating HIV infections among children and keeping their mothers alive, and mobilizing resources.
In addition, more countries are making specific efforts to take action, and domestic spending on HIV now accounts for more than half of global HIV resources.
“We have the tools, the science and the knowledge to end AIDS once and for all. But we cannot let confidence turn to complacency,” he stated.
“Progress remains uneven,” he said, noting that two out of three children who need treatment do not get it; death rates among adolescents are increasing; and epidemics in Eastern Europe, Central Asia, the Middle East and North Africa are getting worse.
Also, progress is lagging on targets such as reducing sexual transmission by 50 per cent and halving HIV transmission among people who inject drugs. Stigma, discrimination and criminalization of people who are the most vulnerable to HIV are also getting worse in parts of the world, he added.
“The goal of ending AIDS remains a major challenge,” Mr. Ban said, while encouraging Member States to continue the vital debate on ensuring how this important objective is best reflected in the post-2015 development agenda.
“With the ongoing commitment of Member States along with the work of UNAIDS [the Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS] and the entire UN system, we have the capacity to deliver a great gift to the world: ending AIDS through the shared vision of no new HIV infections, no discrimination and no AIDS-related deaths.
“Let us make good on that promise. Millions of lives depend on us.”