TACOMA, Washington — There is a wide range of innovations that are building more resilient health systems in Africa through the pandemic and beyond. African countries’ fragile health systems are acutely susceptible to the collapsing of pillar health services while they respond to the coronavirus. The World Health Organization found that 90% of countries experienced disruptions of essential health services during the pandemic, highlighting the importance of fostering healthcare continuity.
Fragile Healthcare Systems
Many African countries have major issues with the delivery of health services because of the large disparity in healthcare providers coupled with a lack of established infrastructure. In Africa, the underfunded healthcare system means low healthcare budgets, doctors and hospital beds.
According to the World Health Organization, Ethiopia had three hospital beds per 10,000 people in 2015. Zimbabwean doctors have reported performing surgeries with their bare hands due to lack of gloves and the Central African Republic has three ventilators to sustain the entire country.
Solutions for Africa’s Healthcare Systems
Despite the low-bandwidth of Africa’s healthcare systems, many strategies are being implemented to mitigate disruptions to essential health services amid the COVID-19 outbreak. Here are five solutions to building more resilient health systems in Africa:
- MDoc Healthcare: MDoc CompleteHealth is a solution that supports Nigerians with chronic health needs with self-management techniques digitally and in-person, and capacitates providers to deliver evidence-based care.
- CARE International UK, CARE Malawi and Kwantu: Digital Community Score Cards is an app that allows users to input information about service delivery issues and elevate it to policymakers in African countries. This is a crucial step in allocating government funds and resources to areas experiencing the largest disparities and disruptions in health services.
- Living Goods: Community Health Information System (CHIS) is an extensive platform utilizing community health workers who have access to technology in Cambodia for community-based data collection, administer services from aid assessments and treatments to digital follow-ups and disease surveillance.
- Ariadne Labs: Team Labor and Birth created a mobile app to provide team-based training for childbirth in Tanzania. Mothers and children are acutely vulnerable during the pandemic, and remote solutions aiding in obstetric care and childbirth are key in reducing maternal and infant mortality and morbidity in the region.
- Source Code: PENSA *660# is a multi-channel and bi-directional mobile application for health, also known as “mHealth apps,” which are available for free on all mobile operators. This mHealth app is designed to employ essential health services and information to the most deprived communities in Mozambique, living in rural areas and with low-tech phones.
The chronic state of hospitals in Africa illuminates the vital need for interventions such as innovative solutions to ease the burden on health systems in Africa amid COVID-19. Despite the difficult state of many countries in Africa, the continent has vast knowledge in dealing with infectious diseases, and these solutions will aid in stopping the spread of COVID-19 and culminating resilient health systems in Africa.