The good news: a new report by the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Regional Office for Africa finds “high improvement” in health in the region.
Bad news: this achievement can only be sustained and expanded if countries significantly improve the way they deliver essential health services to the people who need them most.
The State of Health in Africa report finds life expectancy (that’s time spent in full health) has increased from narly 51 to 54 years between 2012 and 2015, the most marked increase of in the world.
Reasons for getting sick in Africa are changing. Respiratory infections, HIV and diarrhoeal disease remain top killers, but countries are focusing efforts in their prevention and treatment.
The burden and deaths from diseases have reduced by half as general mortality from the top 10 killers continue to drop over 15 years.
“I’m proud that Africans are now living longer and healthier lives,” said Matshidiso Moeti, WHO’s regional director for Africa in Dakar at a side event of the 68th session of the WHO Regional Committee for Africa.
“Nearly three years of extra health is a gift that makes us all proud. Of course we hope that these gains will continue and the region will reach global standards. “
However, Universal Health Coverage requires all conditions affecting a population, not only priority conditions be improved.
Chronic diseases like heart disease and cancer are now claiming more lives with a person aged 30 to 70 in the region having a one in five chance of dying from a noncommunicable diseases.
Countries are specifically failing to provide essential services to two critical age groups – adolescents and the elderly. As the population ages in Africa, the elderly need senior care.
“Health services must keep up with the evolving health trends in the region,” said Moeti.
“In the past we focused on specific diseases as these were causing a disproportionately high number of deaths. We have been highly successful at stopping these threats and people’s health is now being challenged by a broad range of conditions. We need to develop a new and more holistic approach to health.”
Daily Trust News