Africa faces the world’s most dramatic health crisis. Accounting for 24% of the global disease burden, the challenges the continent faces are many and complex, with growing inequities in access to health services and health outcomes across the region. Furthermore, the WHO estimates that NCDs are likely to surpass the toll of sickness and death from infectious disease by 2030, with cancer, type-2 diabetes and heart disease the biggest killers.
Dr Kunal Patel, a physician and Medical Director at iHeed, spoke about innovation, health education and universal health coverage. Dr Patel began by outlining some stark facts regarding global health. For example, there is a shortage of 7.2 million health workers worldwide, and there is only 38% of nurses in the areas where health care is needed the most. Furthermore, apart from South Africa and Nigeria, he observed that there are no other countries that have more than 100 doctors trained to postgraduate level in family medicine or primary care. As a result, iHeed’s report on achieving universal primary healthcare recommended strengthening primary health care systems across the continent by securing political and financial support. The organisation also advised on adopting a collaborative interprofessional approach to training for these healthcare workers.