A New Platform to Improve Health Care in Senegal

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SEATTLE, Washington — Beginning in June, Senegal’s Agency for Universal Health launched sunucmu.com (SunuCMU), a website that the agency hopes will streamline health care in the country. The website is a part of the Minister of State Mohammad Abdallah Dionne’s plan for digitalization. He aims to make Senegal’s health care system effective and sustainable. Using SunuCMU, Senegal hopes to achieve 75 percent coverage within 24 months, thus greatly improving health care in Senegal.

Medical Coverage in Senegal

The new Agency for Universal Health Coverage in Senegal (SunuCMU) website has features that will hopefully solve some of the major issues that have plagued health care in Senegal up to this point. The availability of health care in Senegal has been a long-term problem. Senegal’s health care system operates with a three-tiered structure. Though there are also University and private care providers, they are exceptionally rare. The three tiers include:

  • Heath Posts: Heath posts are the lowest level and most available form of health care in Senegal.
  • Health Centers: As the middle tier, health centers are more scarce than health posts, but they have more medical technology available.
  • Regional Hospitals: Regional hospitals are few and far in between; however, they have the most medical technology and the best ability to handle all sorts of patients.

However, many Senegalese citizens do not have access to any of these three posts. Although health posts are the most common, there is still only one post available per 115,000 people. One center is meant to serve 175,000 inhabitants, and one regional hospital exists for 545,800 inhabitants. Furthermore, only one doctor is available per 17,000 patients, and 32 percent of rural citizens still live without any access to medical care.

Through sunucmu.com, Senegal aims to reduce the number of people who do not have access to adequate medical care. The website features a geo-locator for all doctors and medical care providers. This will make it much easier for citizens to find the closest possible medical provider in order to give them access to the care they need.

Inadequate Medical Knowledge

Alongside scarce medical care, many Senegalese citizens have little medical knowledge or education. Another way that sunucmu.com hopes to improve health care in Senegal is by raising awareness and transparency of basic health care needs. For example, in 2013, only 17.8 percent of the population used contraceptives. This is in part due to access and in part due to a lack of reproductive education.

Furthermore, the lack of medical awareness and knowledge has meant that much of the population still relies on the teachings and methods used by witch doctors. This can be both dangerous and counterproductive to modern medical care. SunuCMU combats the lack of awareness through its website, which outlines certain initiatives that the Agency for Universal Health is supporting. The website shows four clear initiatives:

  1. Caesarean Initiative: The Caesarean Initiative seeks to provide better health care for pregnant women and their fetuses and newborn babies.
  2. The Sesame Plan: The Sesame Plan seeks to provide adequate and cheap medical coverage for all those who are 60-years-old and older.
  3. The Dialysis Plan: The Dialysis Plan seeks to provide medical coverage for all those suffering from renal (Kidney) failure, whether it be endgame or acute.
  4. The Zero to 5 Plan: The Zero to Five Plan seeks to provide medical coverage for all infants and young children.

Through the use of these plans, sunucmu.com, and the initiatives that it outlines, provides greater awareness for citizens. The website allows for different groups to have the opportunity to identify different medical issues as well as where they can receive adequate treatment.

Improving Transparency for Health Care

Currently, Senegal lacks transparency within the medical process. Many posts, centers and hospitals fail to communicate with one another. Data entry is often sporadic and inaccurate. NGO funds are often used to solve short-term problems, leaving long-term issues to plague the health care system. As a result, citizens may struggle to obtain accurate and complete records.

The Agency of Universal Health attempts to tackle this issue through sunucmu.com. The website allows citizens to register as beneficiaries, which will allow them to obtain a clear picture of their medical profile. The website will facilitate a paperless and uniform system, thus aiding in the Ministry’s goal of sustainability as well as improving access.

The Agency for Universal Health is taking major steps by launching this new website. The digitalization of health care will improve access to and awareness of medical care as well as provide a more accurate and useful medical profile. As a result, the new website should greatly increase the prominence of health care in Senegal.

Andrew Edwards
Photo: Flickr

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