WINDHOEK, 08 APR – While more needs to be done, Africa has made significant inroads in terms of accessibility to essential health services and treatment, United Nations (UN) Resident Coordinator Kiki Gbeho said Saturday.
Speaking at the commemoration of World Health Day in Windhoek, Gbeho said in the 70 years of the World Health Organisation’s existence, health outcomes on the continent have improved.
“For the first time, 14 million people have access to life-saving HIV treatment,” she said.
In addition to this, new cases of malaria have dropped by 20 per cent, ensuring 37 per cent less deaths due to the disease in Africa in the last six years.
Meanwhile, by 2016, children vaccinated against pneumonia and meningitis stood at 65 per cent, a 62 per cent increase from 3 per cent in 2010.
Gbeho also noted that Africa accounted for over 50 per cent of polio cases globally.
“The good news is that since August 2016, Africa has not reported a single case of wild poliovirus,” she said.
The UN resident coordinator, however, acknowledged that more needs to be done to curb the increase in non-communicable diseases and to tackle epidemics like Ebola and cholera.
This year’s theme for World Health Day is, universal health coverage.
Universal health coverage seeks to ensure that everyone, everywhere in the world has access to health services without facing financial catastrophes.
In this regard, Namibia is on the right trajectory, according to Gbeho.
“Currently, 88 per cent of women have access to skilled birth attendance during delivery,” she pointed out.
However, the provision of quality healthcare remains one of Namibia’s greatest challenges.
Statistics provided by Gbeho revealed that only 18 per cent of Namibians have access to medical aid schemes, private hospitals and the Public Service Employee Medical Aid Scheme.
On the other hand, an enormous 82 per cent of the Namibian populace – who are mostly unemployed or in the informal sector, as well as other vulnerable populations – are covered by 64 per cent of the government’s total health expenditure.
“The challenge therefore is to ensure better equity in the distribution of health resources, as universal health coverage means ensuring that everyone, no matter who they are or where they live, can access essential quality health services without facing financial hardships,” Gbeho stated.
World Health Day is a global health awareness day celebrated every year on 07 April, under the sponsorship of the World Health Organisation and other related organisations.