MOVING FORWARD WITH HEALTH FINANCING REFORMS

on Monday, 26 April 2021.

Dear Colleagues,

Here is a discussion on health financing in Africa. It is one of our most challenging barriers to UHC.

Annual budget negotiations with national parliaments are going on right now in a number of African countries. Difficult decisions are being made on which aspects of health budgets should be prioritized for funding. This gives us an opportunity to contribute to these ongoing national and regional budget discussions.

Let us start by gaining a common understanding of health financing. It is defined here as “the raising, pooling and spending of financial resources with the primary intention of improving health”. The sources of health financing are the general tax, donor aid, deficit funding (or borrowing), ear-marked taxes, and social and private health insurance. This should exclude out-of-pocket spending by individuals at the point of receiving health care. Expenditures are made in health facilities, on community and out-reach services, pharmacies, drug shops, sanitation, nutrition, training and research. Today, health financing remains the most intractable challenge for the health and development globally. Indeed, some have argued that Universal Health Coverage (UHC) in poor countries cannot be funded internally.

 

COVID-19 CRISIS: A CALL FOR COMPASSION FOR FRONTLINE HEALTH AND CARE WOKERS

on Tuesday, 06 April 2021.

The Year 2021 has been designated by WHO as the _International Year ofHealth and Care Workers_ in appreciation and gratitude for their unwavering dedication in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. In order for it to be beneficial, this year-long campaign must explore ways of how health workers can be more intentional about compassion for themselves while striving to show compassion to others. This article discusses the critical issues on compassion for health workers; highlighting what could be done to help them cope with the challenges
they face in line of duty. 

Definition of Compassion: The definition of compassion encompasses the recognition of the suffering of others and the need to act to help. It embodies a tangible expression of our humanity of empathy and caring for those who are suffering, and a desire to alleviate their distress. It is the knowledge that there can never be any peace and joy for me until there is peace and joy for you too. Lack of understanding of how to handle colleagues who are working under very stressful conditions can have major consequences on the psychological wellbeing and the performance of health workers. Supporting their psychological wellbeing must be a priority for health systems managers and the general population.

 

THE GLOBAL SCRAMBLE FOR COVID-19 VACCINES

on Thursday, 28 January 2021.

Who will live; those with money or all of us?
The Covid-19 pandemic is raging in Europe and USA and infection rates have exceeded those seen during the first wave last winter and spring. Political leaders are under stress and are taking drastic steps to reduce transmission and minimize mortality and morbidity which has provoked riots in some countries. These countries are working feverishly to rapidly vaccinate the population with a view to reaching 70 – 80% of the vaccinated population which is needed achieve effective herd immunity which can enable return in these countries to normal social and economic life as well as save lives.

There is panic in some quarters resulting in decisions to grab all available COVID-19 vaccines including doses to be produced in the future. There was for example a highly publicized call this week that requires vaccine manufacturers not to export any vaccines without permission from political leaders. Vaccine nationalism has cropped up as new terminology. It is counterbalanced by regular calls from the WHO Director-General, Dr. Tedros, and some European leaders, championing humanity, equity, and solidarity to spare and avail some vaccines to LMICs who have no resources to develop and make vaccines for themselves. There is also the epidemiological argument that pockets of the virus anywhere is a threat to all countries and no country is safe until all countries are safe.

ENGAGING COMMUNITIES TO DEFEAT COVID-19.

on Monday, 26 October 2020.

Dear Colleagues,

Let's discuss how to live with COVID-19 in our homes, communities, and workplaces.


“So let’s do it. If health development does not happen in African communities, it will not happen in Africa nations’ is a statement by Miriam Were, a famed Kenyan Community Health Advocate in the book African Health Leaders; making change and claiming the future. “The path to UHC is integrated people-centered Primary Health Care’ is another regularly stated position by Dr. Tedros, Director-General of WHO. African Union Health Strategy 2016-2030 “calls for vibrant ways of leveraging community involvement and integration” …well as recommending a paradigm shift to assist the Member States in addressing the effects of public health emergencies in a more systematic and comprehensive manner”.

At face value, these quotations sound obvious and undisputed; however, there is no palpable movement in Africa to translate this vision into reality in African communities.

What is palpable now is the effort on COVID-19 where advocacy is about Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs); namely hand washing, social distancing, contact racing, testing, and care including provision of pulmonary ventilators. There is a flood of education messages sponsored by so many partners in the media which are telling people what to do and none asking for the people’s views. What is NOT palpable is the message that all these SOPSs take place within the homes of people, their communities, and workplaces except for the use of pulmonary ventilators. What is NOT palpable are messages that ask for the views of the population and the challenges that they face accessing water, soap, stigma related to contact tracing, isolation, quarantine, travel, teenage pregnancies, gender-based violence, etc.

 

RACISIM, SECTARIANISM AND HEALTH OUTCOMES

on Monday, 27 July 2020.

Dear Colleagues,

This discussion is trending today. How can we use this debate to improve health outcomes for all?

The current global debate on racism provides an opportunity to discuss the contribution of racism and other forms of sectarianism to population health outcomes. The WHO Commission on Social Determinants of Health and other studies have pointed out racial discrimination as a key social determinant and driver of racial health inequities. This is mediated by direct and indirect pathways such as differential access to societal resources, education, employment and living conditions.

The world has been gripped by the reaction of disgust expressed through widespread global protests in over 60 countries against the killing of Floyd George a black man by a white policeman in Minneapolis, USA. This incident took place in broad daylight and was vividly captured in a live video recording that went viral and touched the hearts of many around the world. This global reaction is a vivid illustration of our humanity at work where we feel the pain of another human being and respond to stop the same from happening again to others. It is this humanity that has enabled our species homo sapiens to collaborate, learn together and prosper by turning planetary resources to our advantage.