POST COVID-19: AFRICA MUST PUT IN PLACE RESILIENT HEALTH SYSTEM AND POLICIES FOR INCLUSIVE HEALTH, SAYS DR. MABOGUNJE
By Sekyen Dadik
As nations of the world grapple the effects of COVID-19 pandemic on almost every sphere of life, in Africa, the new normal has only accentuated our social and economic issues, as well as the fear of the common man, especially with regard to the healthcare system.
To address the anticipated post-COVID-19 uncertainties, Experts in different fields all over the world are beginning to come together to proffer ways in which the impact will be mitigated.
One of such is the e-Policy Seminar on Building Resilient Health Systems: Policies for Inclusive Health in Post COVID-19 Africa”, organized recently by the African Development Initiative of the African Development Bank Group.
The e-Seminar which brought together African health experts from different institutions was aimed at providing support to African countries with regard to knowledge of products and technical assistance in making prompt decisions to address the rapidly evolving and at the same time keep in view what the responses may bequeath to economies after the pandemic in the short, medium and long term.
Speaking on “Building Resilient Health Systems: Policies for Inclusive Health in Post-Covid-19 Africa”, Dr. Nihinlola Mabogunje, Team Leader of Support to National Malaria Programme (SuNMap2) in Nigeria, called on African governments to address the corona virus comprehensively with clear communication and public trust.
According to her, most health policy responses by African countries to contain COVID-19 have been in the areas of limiting the human health and attendant social impact of the COVID-19 pandemic through activating quarantine laws, lockdowns, restrictions and guidance around social interactions and also, monetary and micro-financial responses.
These responses she noted have had a multiplier or unintended social, economic and environmental impact. Socially, the pandemic may disrupt services and destabilize the health system with shifting funding and priorities such that other disease domains are suffering; it has also led to a marked increase in violence against women and has affected all levels of the education system, from pre-school to tertiary education.
Dr. Maboguje said, the responses have grossly impacted already weak economic systems across the region, as lockdowns have especially pulverized most informal economies, “the public spending has increased on the public side, but there has been significant decline in consumption, investments and net exports. All these have grossly impacted already weak economic systems across the region which have overhead debt servicing profile of about US$40 billion and dwindling revenues,” she added.
While acknowledging that the pandemic is placing severe strains on Africa’s Social, Economic, Environmental and security sectors, she proffered that “mitigation and suppression efforts will require a comprehensive (All-of) government and multi-sectoral response built on clear communications and public trust”.
She therefore called for Health in All policy strategy centred on broad Public Private Philanthropist Partnerships to include innovative social enterprises and the effective use of information technology; Investment in research to strengthen local research and development windows like production of vaccines and new drugs and equipment locally to augment movement towards universal access to essential drugs; Pro-poor and incentive gated PPPP to galvanise more investment in the health sector across all human capital development and building blocks of the health system.