The organisers of the Africa Health Agenda International Conference (AHAIC) have stressed the need for the African continent to strengthen its health structure for the universal coverage of its people amid the ravages of COVID-19 pandemic.
Prof. Jonathan Dangana, an AHAIC Commissioner, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos in a telephone interview that the pandemic had exposed the weak health system in Africa in spite of the human expertise.
According to the WHO, Universal Health Coverage (UHC) means that all people have access to the health services they need, when and where they need them, without financial hardship.
It includes the full range of essential health services, from health promotion to prevention, treatment, rehabilitation, and palliative care.
Dangana, who is a Technical Advisor to AHAIC, said: “The pandemic has actually opened up more realities for us as to how this situation is especially in terms of achieving UHC.
“If the UHC has been in the right perspective, which is health for all, then the real question is everybody having equal access to health.
“If everybody had equal access and there was actually availability of health care, then you would realise that some of these vanguard that we are trying to champion would have been in place.
“Vanguard in terms of getting data, are people really covered in terms of data, are we doing the right things, vaccinations and how to reach out to all the people.
“ So, if we had had functional UHC and health system in the African continent, then some of these realties would have been a walkover for us’’.
According to Dangana, even in terms of the small goal that we think we have achieved as a continent, the pandemic further reveals that there is more to be done.
Dangana suggested that a framework on how the diverse issues of budget, equity, disparity, weak infrastructure among others could be achieved is what should be focused on.
“We need to focus on the AHAIC conference which is coming up with a framework that if any country in Africa should look into it critically, we can begin to have a clear-cut way in addressing our health issues continent wide.
“AHAIC is an indigenous, home driven solution to a home driven problem. That is one of the first beauties.
“In other words, it is the individuals within the system who have objectively looked at the system to say this is our problem and this is our way out,’’ he told NAN.
According to Dangana, the AHAIC the upcoming conference which holds from March 8 to March 10, virtually, is African driven.
AHAIC 2021 is an African-led biennial global health convening hosted by Amref Health Africa, a leading health development organisation in Africa founded in 1957.
“You will be engaged by African professionals who are in the forefront and those who have gone through the path, to say, listen this is where Africa needs to be.
“This is what we need to be doing at this particular point in time, and I tell you, putting UHC 2030 in view, if this AHAIC conference resolution, discussions will be adapted and looked upon by members of the African countries who will participants.
“Then our narratives will begin to change as far as what our continent is and where we are headed to,’’ Dangana said. (NAN)