A "wholesale restructuring of Africa’s healthcare systems" will be necessary over the next ten years, requiring a shift to preventive care and less reliance on international aid.
That is the key message from a report published by the Economist Intelligence Unit and sponsored by Johnson & Johnson. It states that reforms can be achieved by giving local communities more control over their healthcare, by using mobile technologies, "and by committing countries to a form of universal healthcare coverage".
The analysis goes on to state that such reforms are crucial if African healthcare is to remain sustainable and effective over the coming decade. Major communicable diseases "are putting huge strains on the continent's healthcare systems, yet lifestyle diseases are expected to become the greater health challenge in Africa by 2030".
The EIU notes that currently, healthcare delivery infrastructure is insufficient and skilled workers in the sector "and crucial medicines are in short supply". It adds that "poor procurement and distribution systems are leading to unequal access to treatment".
The study suggests five potential scenarios for African healthcare in 2022 that are "intended to fuel debate". These include telemedicine and related mobile-phone technology becoming the dominant means of delivering healthcare advice and treatment and a situation where continued global instability forces many international donors to pull out of Africa or drastically cut support levels, leaving governments to fill the gaps.
The report concludes by saying that "the reverberations from the global financial crisis offer an opportunity for governments to imagine a future of greater self-sufficiency in healthcare provision".