COVID-19 must accelerate African push for universal healthcare

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Mayamba, Johnson
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Global Campus Human Rights
“The greatest injustice is the lack of access to equitable healthcare” Dr Martin Luther King Jr. In a bid to achieve equitable healthcare in Africa, a total of 46 African states met in Abuja, Nigeria, in 2001. In what came to be known as the Abuja Declaration, each African state pledged to commit 15 percent of public expenditure to health. More than two decades since the Declaration was signed, only two African countries have reached this target, leaving vast swathes of the continent vulnerable to emerging health crises such as Ebola and COVID-19. Poor response and management is exacerbated by unpreparedness due to lack of research and under-developed infrastructure. Limited healthcare funding has also led to other challenges such as exploitation of patients, especially by private health providers, who see public health crises as money-making opportunities. Unfortunately, even those entrusted with managing public funds dedicated to the response and management of these crises have resorted to corruption. Whilst we tentatively celebrate having finally survived COVID-19, Africa needs to learn lessons from its past and plan for a better future. Firstly, by increasing government funding towards the health sector and secondly by addressing other still-existing challenges to equitable healthcare. This article recommends building resilient healthcare systems; adopting individual and group participation in decision-making processes; and ensuring there is Universal Health Coverage. All these must start with political will and good leadership.
COVID-19 pandemic, Africa, health services, vaccine
Johnson Mayamba. “COVID-19 must accelerate African push for universal healthcare” (2022) 6 Global Campus Human Rights Journal 203-214