Category: Health Financing

Moving Forward with Primary Health Care Universal Health Coverage in Africa

Moving Forward with Primary Health Care Universal Health Coverage in Africa - Hope Uweja

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Recognizing health as a vital human right is an important step toward attaining UHC through PHC in Africa.

The goal of universal health coverage (UHC) is well recognized in public health, particularly in Africa, where many people continue to lack access to high-quality medical care. This objective requires the strengthening of primary health care (PHC) systems. As African countries navigate the complexities of their healthcare systems, it becomes increasingly obvious that PHC is critical to UHC. It also allows for universal, integrated access to health care as near as feasible to people's daily lives. It also contributes to the provision of a comprehensive variety of quality services and goods that individuals require for their health and well-being, hence boosting coverage and financial security.

Primary health care as defined by the World Health Organization (WHO) is "essential health care based on practical, scientifically sound and socially acceptable methods and technology made universally accessible to individuals and families in the community through their full participation and at a cost that the community and country can afford to maintain at every stage of their development in the spirit of self-reliance and self-determination." It stresses a comprehensive approach that promotes prevention, promotion, treatment, and rehabilitation to address people and communities' essential health needs. The primary health care approach is both a philosophy of health care and an approach to providing health services and embraces five types of care: promotive; preventive; curative; rehabilitative; and supportive. However, the road to achieving comprehensive PHC in Africa is riddled with multifaceted challenges. These hurdles range from insufficient funding and infrastructure deficits to shortages of skilled healthcare workers and inequitable distribution of resources. Yet, despite these obstacles, progress is palpable, driven by a confluence of factors, including political will, international partnerships, and grassroots initiatives. Recognizing health as a vital human right is an important step toward attaining UHC through PHC in Africa. To ensure that healthcare is not merely a privilege for a chosen few but rather a basic entitlement for all persons, governments and politicians must embrace a rights-based approach. To highlight the expansion and enhancement of PHC services, policies and resources must be developed, particularly in underserved rural areas and informal urban settlements where health disparities are most visible.

Furthermore, it is critical to invest in a solid healthcare infrastructure. To allow data-driven decision-making, it is required to establish well-equipped medical facilities, install appropriate medical equipment and supplies, and strengthen health information systems. Additionally, initiatives aimed at training and retaining a skilled cadre of healthcare professionals, including doctors, nurses, and community health workers, are essential for bolstering PHC delivery at the grassroots level. Collaboration and partnership are also indispensable in the journey towards UHC for PHC in Africa. Engaging with international organizations, philanthropic foundations, civil society groups, and the private sector can leverage resources, expertise, and best practices to augment local efforts. Furthermore, fostering community participation and ownership fosters a sense of empowerment and accountability, driving sustainable health outcomes. Several African nations have advanced PHC as a fundamental component of UHC in recent years. For instance, millions of Rwandans now have significantly greater access to vital health services because of the country's creative community-based health insurance program, Mutuelles de Santé. Ethiopia's Health Extension Program has won praise from throughout the world for its efficacy. It sends out an army of community health workers who have been educated to provide preventative and curative care at the local level.

However, there are still many serious obstacles to overcome, and PHC in Africa has a long way to go before achieving UHC. Overcoming these challenges will need a persistent political commitment, more funding for the improvement of health systems, and creative solutions that are adapted to regional circumstances. By prioritizing PHC as the bedrock of UHC, Africa can unlock a future where every individual enjoys equitable access to quality healthcare, irrespective of their socio-economic status or geographic location.

In conclusion, achieving universal health coverage for basic health care in Africa is both a moral and strategic necessity. It requires a collaborative effort from governments, civic society, the commercial sector, and the international community. As Africa works toward universal health coverage, it must stay strong in its commitment to leaving no one behind, ensuring that health is no longer a privilege but a fundamental human right for everyone.

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