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South Africa’s healthcare system: eight steps that would get it on the right track

South Africa’s healthcare system: eight steps that would get it on the right track

SOUTH Africa’s healthcare system suffers from widespread problems in its governance. A number of indicators point to this dysfunction. These include the large number of managers in acting positions, frequent changes in senior leadership, worse health outcomes than similarly resourced countries, and overall deterioration of morale and trust in the public health system. These indicators confirm that there are system-wide failures. And that much needs to be done to improve the governance of the South African health system. The findings were made by a panel appointed by the Academy of Science of South Africa. The seven-member panel was made up…
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Food and healthcare in war-torn Tigray: preliminary insights on what’s at stake

Food and healthcare in war-torn Tigray: preliminary insights on what’s at stake

IT is now over two months since war broke out in Tigray between the regional government and the federal government of Ethiopia. The military hostilities have led to a sudden disruption in essential services and endangered the lives and wellbeing of around 6 million residents and over 100,000 Eritrean refugees sheltered in the region. It’s estimated that 2.2 million people – close to a third of the regional population – have been internally displaced. At least 56,000 citizens, mainly women and children, have already fled across the border to Sudan. AZEB GEBRESILASSIE TESEMA, Assistant Professor of Public Health, Mekelle University;…
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Stung by the pandemic, Ethiopia boosts health budget 46%

Stung by the pandemic, Ethiopia boosts health budget 46%

DUNCAN MIRIRI ETHIOPIA has raised its health budget by 46% this year after the coronavirus crisis exposed the need for more equipment, facilities and personnel, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has announced. The populous Horn of Africa nation has typically been spending twice its annual health budget servicing its external debt, he said, but it was now shifting priorities. "In many African countries, healthcare is a neglected sector. This pandemic has exposed our dark underbelly," Abiy told the FT Africa conference, which was held virtually. The extra spending has made the health sector the fourth biggest in terms of budgetary allocations,…
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In Kenya, COVID-19’s rural spread strains creaky healthcare

In Kenya, COVID-19’s rural spread strains creaky healthcare

JOSEPH AKWIRI and MAGGIE FICK THE recent deaths from COVID-19 in Kenya of a refugee, a member of parliament and a retired civil servant all happened for the same reason: emergency help was hours away. Nearly three quarters of Kenya's intensive care unit (ICU) beds are in the two largest cities, Nairobi and Mombasa. Yet the new coronavirus is spreading into rural areas where the public health system is creaking and scarce ICU units are full and turning patients away, medics round the nation told Reuters. Christmas travel may worsen the problem - and not just in Kenya. "That is…
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Many East Africans miss out on disease diagnosis. What must be done about it

Many East Africans miss out on disease diagnosis. What must be done about it

EARLY diagnosis is crucial for the effective management of any disease. In Africa, this isn’t always possible which affects the ability of countries to bring diseases under control. WILBER SABIITI, Senior Research Fellow in Medicine, University of St Andrews My colleagues and I conducted research into the barriers to diagnosis for tuberculosis (TB) in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. We also wanted to identify what opportunities there were to maximise the use of diagnostics in healthcare settings. We found that, in all three countries, the uptake of diagnostics was highest – over 90% – at large referral hospitals in major municipalities…
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Healthcare collapse imminent, Brazil’s Sao Paulo warns, as COVID-19 cases surge

Healthcare collapse imminent, Brazil’s Sao Paulo warns, as COVID-19 cases surge

EDUARDO SIMOES and LISANDRA PARAGUASSU BRAZIL’S richest and most populous state, Sao Paulo, has warned its ability to care for seriously ill COVID-19 patients was on the verge of collapse as it ran perilously low on key drugs, according to a letter to the federal government seen by the Folha de Sao Paulo newspaper. Sao Paulo state said it expects to run out of crucial intubation drugs, needed to sedate patients, in the next few days, the paper reported on Wednesday. "The supply situation regarding drugs, mainly neuromuscular blockers and sedatives, is very serious," Sao Paulo Health Secretary Jean Gorinchteyn…
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Nigeria is neglecting social workers in the fight against COVID-19. Why it shouldn’t

Nigeria is neglecting social workers in the fight against COVID-19. Why it shouldn’t

IN current debates about managing and defeating COVID-19 in Nigeria, an issue that’s missing is the role that social workers should play. PRINCE AGWU -, Researcher at the Department of Social Work and the Health Policy Research Group, University of Nigeria, University of Nigeria UZOMA OKOYE, Professor of Social Work, University of Nigeria In many countries social workers have played a central role in efforts to contain the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, and to manage its fallout. In China they are celebrated for their exceptional roles. The same is true in the US, Italy, New Zealand, and the UK.…
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One health approach key to tackling Africa’s challenges

One health approach key to tackling Africa’s challenges

OLANIKE ADEYEMO THE COVID-19 pandemic has shown us that global health challenges cannot be solved only by health sector interventions. Many of the recent epidemics — Ebola, Zika and even Covid-19 — are emerging infectious diseases transmissible from wildlife species. In addition, other global health challenges greatly impact people, livestock, wildlife and agriculture which results in adverse effects on local, national, and global economies. To truly tackle prospective pandemics, Africa’s higher education institutions need to promote a more integrated approach to healthcare training that breaks down the silos between doctors, veterinarians, laboratory scientists and other aligned professions to embrace a “one health”…
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