The healthy life expectancy of Africans, who live primarily in high- and upper-middle-income countries on the continent, has increased through almost 10 yearssaid the UN health authority WHO on Thursday.
The World Health Organization announced the good news after examining life expectancy data in the 47 countries in WHO’s African region from 2000 to 2019 as part of a continent-wide report on progress in accessing healthcare for all – a key SDG goal.
“This increase is greater than any other region in the world over the same period‘ the WHO said, before warning that the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic could put ‘these huge gains’ at risk.
Healthier for longer
According to the UN agency Tracking Universal Health Coverage in the WHO African Region 2022 report, life expectancy on the continent has increased to 56 years, compared with 46 years at the turn of the century.
“Although still well below the global average of 64 years, global healthy life expectancy increased by only five years over the same period,” she explained.
those of the continent Health ministries should be recognized for their ‘drive’ to improve health and the well-being of populations, said Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa.
In particular, the continent has benefited from better access to basic health services – from 24 percent in 2000 to 46 percent in 2019 – and improvements in reproductive, maternal, newborn and child health.
Benefits of Fighting Disease
Significant advances in controlling infectious diseases have also contributed to longer life expectancy, the WHO said, citing the rapid expansion of action to combat HIV, tuberculosis and malaria from 2005.
Despite these welcome initiatives to prevent and treat infectious diseases The UN agency warned that those gains had been wiped out by a “dramatic” rise in high blood pressure, diabetes and other noncommunicable diseasesin addition to the lack of health services targeting these diseases.
“People are living healthier lives, longer lives, with fewer threats from infectious diseases, and with better access to care and disease prevention services,” said Dr. Moeti.
“But progress must not stall. Unless countries step up action to address the threat of cancer and other noncommunicable diseases, health gains could be jeopardized.”
Resisting the next global threat
Securing these valuable health gains against the negative impact of COVID-19 – “and the next coming pathogen” – will be crucial, the WHO official stressed, as the UN agency found that African countries, on average, experience greater disruption to essential services experienced. compared to other regions.
Overall, more than 90 percent of the 36 countries that participated in the 2021 WHO survey reported one or more disruptions to essential health services, with immunization, neglected tropical diseases and nutrition services being the hardest hit.
“It is vital that governments increase public health funding,” WHO said, adding that most governments in Africa fund less than 50 percent of their national health budgets, resulting in large funding gaps. “Only Algeria, Botswana, Cabo Verde, Eswatini, Gabon, Seychelles and South Africa” fund more than half of their healthcare spending, she noted.
One of WHO’s key recommendations to all governments that want to improve access to health care is to do so Reducing “catastrophic” household spending on medicines and consultations.
Households that spend more than 10 percent of their income on health fall into the catastrophic category. Over the past 20 years, domestic spending has stagnated or increased in 15 African countries.