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Amref in MK61million emergency response project in Chikwawa

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One of the health development international organizations, Amref Health Africa has disclosed that it will be pumping in about K61 million in response to the March 2019 devastating floods in the district.

The money is half of the total sum approximately K122 million whereas the other half has been allocated to Zomba district.

The organization’s WASH Manager, Young Samanyika made the remarks Wednesday during a presentation when his organization engaged Chikwawa District Civil Protection Committee (DCPC), District Health Management Team (DHMT) as well as members from health, WASH and Nutrition Cluster.

He said concerned by the March devastating floods and the impact of Idai in some parts of the country, Amref Health Africa sourced some funds that will go towards contribution to the emergency response.

“As an organization we believe that the disaster disrupted service delivery as well as causing suffering among people.

“We are sure of the challenges such as shelter, food, water, sanitation and hygiene, risk to outbreak as well as disruption to health and other social services,” he said

Samanyika further said Amref managed to secure £150,000 (approximately K122 million) to be used in the emergency response for the two districts of Chikwawa and Zomba.

The organization in Chikwawa intends to implement the six months emergency response project at Nchalo which will see it supporting most camps and affected communities surrounding St Montfort Hospital.

“Through the project, we hope to strengthen WASH services at evacuation camps by among other things recruiting and train volunteers to support WASH activities.

“We shall also facilitate promotion of hygiene through hand washing with soap, waste disposal, food as well as menstrual hygiene,” he stated
He further said the project intends to achieve promotion of management, prevention and control of WASH related and other communicable diseases on top of ensuring coordination and strengthening capacity of health and extension workers in provision of emergency services.

(Amref)

This article was first published by Shire Valley Online publication 

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Universal Health Coverage: Local action driving universal achievements

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The world has never been as aligned on a common global health priority as it is now on universal health coverage. It is a global imperative for cohesive societies and economic prosperity. A consensus has existed since 1948 that health is a human right, and the call for health for all has been a lingering voice since 1978 at Alma-Ata. But there has never been such high advocacy as there is today with the current call for universal health coverage with access to essential services for all without financial hardship.

The United Nations High Level Meeting on 23 September 2019 in New York may be the climax of this building advocacy. Despite this celebratory moment, there remains a real fear that the political endorsements, high fives, dinners and numerous side events, will bring little change for half of the world’s population, living in Malawi, Vietnam, Somalia and other countries. This includes large numbers of people living in developed countries such as the United States who still do not have full coverage for essential health services.

As the world converges in New York this September, many issues will need to be prioritised. The UHC2030 movement, through its various multi stakeholder constituencies and wide-ranging consultations, has identified six key areas of focus. They start with political leadership beyond health and commitment to health as a social contract. Health is the foundation for people, communities and economies to reach their full potential – and the achievement of universal health coverage is primarily the responsibility of governments.

Governments ensure that people’s health is a social contract, noting that achieving universal health coverage is essential for inclusive development, prosperity and fairness. It requires political decisions that go beyond the health sector.

Second, half the world’s population is left behind. That includes the poor, migrants, criminalised populations and women. Health is enshrined as a fundamental right of every human being. Universal health coverage is key to reducing poverty and promoting equity and social cohesion.

Local action driving universal achievements

Extending geographic coverage and reaching the most marginalised and hard-to-reach populations are essential to achieving positive health outcomes. For real action in all communities, governments must commit to report disaggregated data for the official statistics compiled on the Sustainable Development Goals in order to capture the full spectrum of the equity dimensions of universal health coverage.

The third priority is to ensure that governments create a strong, enabling, regulatory and legal environment that responds to people’s needs and builds institutional capacity, so the rights of people and their needs are met. There is no debating the fact that governments bear this primary duty under the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

The fourth call is to uphold the quality of care by building health systems that people and communities trust. That starts with primary health care as the backbone of universal health coverage. It is best achieved through creating confidence in public health systems that respond to people’s needs and deliver desired outcomes.Where private health services are required, leadership should come from the public sector.

The fifth call is for leadership through public financing and efficiency by investing more and investing better through sustainable public financing and by harmonising health investments from all players including development assistance and the private sector. Governments must adopt ambitious investment goals for universal health coverage and make progress in mobilising domestic pooled funding towards existing targets, such as 5% of gross domestic product or the African Union’s Abuja Declaration of 15% of government expenditure. This funding should be equitable and driven by the need to reduce impoverishing and catastrophic out-of-pocket expenditures for communities.

Furthermore, development assistance for health should reduce fragmentation and strengthen national capacities for health financing.

Finally, and in line with SDG 17 on the need for partnerships – and in recognition of the fact that health can only be achieved by a whole-of-society approach – countries should take active steps to engage non-state actors more meaningfully. In providing clear direction from the public sector, civil society and the private sector, they too can shape the universal health coverage agenda.

As in many other sectors, there is no one-size-fits-all answer. Solutions for each country must be tailored to that country’s particular context and population needs. The international community and global health partners should unite to support all countries to build a healthier world. The UN High Level Meeting in September must therefore reach high enough to mobilise political leadership but local enough to drive meaningful country action.

Githinji Gitahi joined Amref Health Africa as the group chief executive officer in June 2015. He is also a member of the Private Sector Advisory Board of Africa CDC, the Global Health Investment Advisory Board, and of the World Health Organization’s Community Health Worker Hub. Gitahi is co-chair of the UHC2030 Steering Committee, a global World Bank and World Health Organization initiative for universal health coverage. Gitahi has a doctor of medicine degree from the University of Nairobi and a master’s in business administration from United States International University.

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GE Healthcare Advancing Universal Health Coverage in Ghana

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GE Healthcare’s Eyong Ebai, General Manager West Central & French Sub-Sahara with Hon Alexander K. K. Abban Ghana’s Deputy Minister of Health, Farid Fezoua President & CEO GE Healthcare Africa and Sulemana Abubakar, CEO GE Ghana during Ghana Healthcare Dialogues event. Source: GE

A key highlight of the event was the unveiling of GE Healthcare’s new budget-conscious ultrasound system, the Versana Essential

ACCRA, Ghana, June 12, 2019 – GE Healthcare has kicked-off a two-day “Healthcare Dialogues” event in Ghana, bringing together public and private sectors’ industry stakeholders including policy makers, healthcare professionals, decision makers, academia, investors and financing institutions to drive conversations around innovative sustainable healthcare solutions to help progress Ghana’s Universal Health Coverage (UHC). Under the theme of Elevating Healthcare through Collaborations, key topics to be discussed include Structuring Innovative Healthcare Financing Solutions; Ghana’s Vision for UHC; the Future of Radiology with Artificial Intelligence (AI); Healthcare Technology Innovations, among other topics.

Also Read HealthPoint Promote Health Inclusion For Widows And Orphans In Nigeria

A key highlight of the event was the unveiling of GE Healthcare’s new budget-conscious ultrasound system, the Versana Essential. It has excellent image quality and can be used by obstetricians and gynecologists, family and general practice physicians, and clinicians in a number of other specialties, making healthcare accessible to promote maternal healthcare in Ghana.  It also comes with local product and clinical training backed with GE’s solid aftersales service to help healthcare professionals gain comfort and proficiency with the system to enhance patient care.

“Promoting health for all is key in accelerating Ghana’s vision for Universal Health Coverage,” said Eyong Ebai, General Manager, GE Healthcare West Central Africa & French Sub-Sahara Africa. “Through collaborations, continuous investment in sustainable healthcare solutions and capacity building, GE Healthcare will continue driving access to quality and affordable healthcare in the region.”

Ghana has been recognized for its commitment to address barriers to health care services and attainment of UHC by 2030 by providing formal support to its vulnerable population through its National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS).  In 2018 https://bit.ly/2ZnK1yV, NHIS had increased to about 11 million people from the 1.3 million memberships at inception in 2005, representing 38% of Ghana’s population. In addition, the healthcare system engages over 4,000 public and private providers and accounts for about 85% of its internally-generated fund.

“We are proud to host the GE Healthcare Dialogues in Ghana and provide a platform for the industry stakeholders to advance the country’s healthcare agenda,” said Sulemana Abubakar, CEO GE Ghana. “This is a testament of our role as a global leader with local presence, to drive better outcomes for people in the markets in which we operate.”

GE started its operations in Ghana in 2010 with only 5 employees and has grown to 100+ employees currently 90% Ghanaians, with two offices in Accra and Takoradi. Through strategic partnerships and localization commitments, GE is supporting co-creation of solutions to tackle key challenges in Healthcare, power and oil & gas to help improve life for the people of Ghana. GE Healthcare in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and the Ghana Health Service is also training and equipping healthcare professionals at the primary healthcare level with over 500 portable ultrasound machines across 125 of Ghana’s 216 districts. As a result, 1.5 million expectant Ghanaian women are expected to benefit from the initiative by 2020.

GE.

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Engaging community healthcare workers in addressing primary healthcare crises in Nigeria

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Image credit: VON

We are currently facing a primary healthcare crisis in Nigeria and speedy intervention is needed to salvage and enhance access to health care for our ever growing population.

Community health workers have the potential to enhance primary care access and quality, but remain underutilised in Nigeria.

A WHO report by Uta Lehmann and David Sanders from the School of Public Health University of the Western Cape, says;

‘The use of community health workers has been identified as one strategy to address the growing shortage of health workers, particularly in low-income countries. Using community members to render certain basic health services to the communities they come from is a concept that has been around for at least 50 years. There have been innumerable experiences throughout the world with programmes ranging from largescale, national programmes to small-scale, community-based initiatives’ (Evidence and Information for Policy, Department of Human Resources for Health Geneva, January 2007)

It is common knowledge that  we do not have trained physician associates or assistants in primary care facilities to support medical doctors in providing primary care services; rather what we have in some  communities are quacks, people parading themselves as medical doctors with no medical qualification what so ever.

But I don’t see any reason why we should not welcome the idea of training physician associates or assistants to fill in the gap for medical staff shortage, when other developing and developed countries that have better healthcare systems do have them.

In Nigeria we do not have enough doctors per population or geographical area, This is the time to train up more community health care workers as this would help in the much needed awareness creation and community based interventions for  managing long term conditions, reducing childhood illnesses due to lack of immunisation. Trained birth attendants will also help reduce maternal mortality and community nursing care will reduce infant mortality.

In a typical medical centre in the UK for instance, healthcare assistants, advanced nurse practitioners, health trainers, clinical pharmacists or prescribers, work alongside doctors to provide patient centered care. This helps to reduce the work load on the doctors as these other clinicians and allied health workers have enough training and experience to manage long term conditions and participate in triage system.

In the UK, a lot of research has been done and there are calls to increase the health work force in the National Health Service (NHS) through the utilisation of community-based lay workers.

Below is an extract from a research published in the journal of Royal society of medicine curated by Dawn O’Shea:

‘’Introducing a workforce of community-based lay health workers in the NHS could address current general practitioners (GP) workload demands, while improving clinical outcomes, according to research published in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine.

In the 1960s, programmes in the US funded members of the community provide a bridge between patients and health care providers. By facilitating appointment-keeping and increasing medication compliance, community health workers improved access to and quality of health care, while reducing costs.

In Brazil, community health workers receive basic training in disease identification and monitoring, immunisation, screening and health promotion. They support patients with medication adherence and chronic disease monitoring and liaise proactively with GPs and practice nurses…..

The authors conclude that systematic integration of community health workers at scale in the NHS could be an effective and a rapidly implementable approach to the current primary care workload crisis’’.

(Hayhoe B & al.  | J R Soc Med | 4 Oct 2018     from Dawn O’Shea | UK Medical News | 8 Oct 2018)

Another important area where the community healthcare workforce could be utilised effectively is emergency care or first aid. In most public and private places in Nigeria, there are no ambulance or paramedic services; having well trained community first aid responders would go a long way to save lives in times of emergency for example; cardiac arrest, collapse, and respiratory distress. Having a health unit manned by well-trained first aid responders in all public places like markets, motor parks etc is highly essential.

Healthcare provision anywhere in the world is capital intensive but we can start from the basics; we can reduce the burden or costs in secondary healthcare provision especially in our public hospitals if we lay more emphasis on patient health education and encourage people to engage in healthy living and self-care. Integrated healthcare practice at all levels is an efficient way of providing patient centered care where every member of the healthcare team contributes their quota.

Community healthcare workers are well placed to offer advice on healthy living and self-care in the language people of a specific demographic area would understand.

Hypertension, Chronic Kidney Disease, Type 2 diabetes mellitus, malaria, HIV/AIDs are among the diseases that could be prevented or well managed through patient education and lifestyle advise.

The role of health education cannot be overemphasized. For instance, there is still some form of stigma around epilepsy in some areas in the country; where people who are epileptic are believed to be possessed by some sort of evil spirits, in an unfortunate event of epileptic fits in public places, patients are not well cared for and objects like spoon etc. are inserted into their mouths in the believe that it keeps the airways open, this could be a choking hazard and has made recovery time worse for some patient. Community healthcare workers could perfectly fill that gap of providing basic health education and public health enlightenment.

In conclusion, addressing the primary healthcare crises in Nigeria is no mean feat, but we need to look at the issue holistically, it involves a multifaceted, public and private partnership, but the Government has to lead on this through the inaction of relevant laws and provision of training programmes, monitoring and evaluation etc.

Without health, life is not life; it is only a state of languor and suffering.     

Francois Rabelais

 

Author:

Adaku Efuribe

Clinical Pharmacist/UN SDG Advocate

 

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