Conference in South Africa raises issues on whether the approach should be private or state-driven
Public sector versus private sector approaches
By providing this glimpse into the healthcare crisis in AU member-states, it points in the direction of the desperate need for a UHC system across the continent. Even though there has been substantial growth in various nations and regions of Africa over the previous two decades, these levels of economic expansion can in no way be considered sustainable based upon the continuing dependency of the region on the trade in energy resources, strategic minerals and agricultural products.
In fact the reemergence of the African debt quagmire in recent years is directly linked to the decline in commodity prices on the global market which is still dominated by the western imperialist countries. Moreover, the fragility of neo-colonial dominated states is reflected in the often precarious social positions of healthcare professionals.
Leading African states such as South Africa, Zimbabwe, Kenya and Nigeria have experienced low salaries for nurses, physicians and medical researchers. Many of these healthcare workers have engaged in strikes demanding the regular payment of salaries, higher wages and improved conditions of employment. Other professionals operating in the medical fields have been recruited to work in the capitalist countries of Europe and North America, further hampering the ability of AU member-states to address the monumental healthcare problems on the continent.
As discussed at the beginning of this report, South Africa provides a clear example of the burden facing the public sector in regard to providing medical services for the working class and impoverished. Other governments in Africa are facing similar situations which necessitate the strengthening of state structures. Private for profit healthcare schemes can and do have a role to play. Nevertheless, as is illustrated in the U.S., millions will go without any medical insurance coverage if profit-making is allowed to determine how healthcare systems are administered.
The healthcare crisis in Africa is inextricably connected to the struggle against the legacy of colonialism and neo-colonialism. Any genuine development strategy cannot be successful without the maintenance of a healthy and productive youth population, workforce and senior sectors of the population.
Abayomi Azikiwe is the editor of Pan-African News Wire. He is a frequent contributor to Global Research.