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Committed partnerships are the best way to ensure all Africans have access to life-saving surgical procedures

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  As Mercy Ships www MercyShips Africa marks 30 years of service to the continent providing free surgical care training and support from its hospital ships to local development projects in Africa its Africa Office Director Dr Pierre M Pele calls for continuous vigilance and tireless pursuit of efforts to improve the level of health of African populations Life expectancy in Africa has increased by 10 years since 2000 as a result of interventions such as the implementation of the Millennium 2000 2015 and the successful commitments made by national governments under the Sustainable Development Goals SDGs 2015 2030 Working to serve the greatest number of people in a sustainable manner having a people centered vision and planning for greater investment in health as part of national development programs together with good democratic governance stability and economic growth have also positively influenced health indicators across the continent We absolutely must celebrate these positive results however we must be cautious and avoid complacency because this positive news is a tree that hides the forest says Dr M Pele A third of clinical conditions in Africa require surgical obstetric and anesthetic care and yet there is less than one surgical specialist per 100 000 population making surgery a particularly neglected component of health systems in Africa It is a critical area where a lot of improvement is needed While much of the world is looking to the latest technologies to improve its clinical care we say there is still a lot of work to be done in Africa to increase the number of qualified specialized and dedicated doctors and nurses as well Access to quality safe and affordable surgical obstetric and anesthetic care is a luxury in most African countries and especially for the poorest populations The challenge of equity and the integration of surgical and anesthetic care in national health systems are prerequisites for achieving Universal Health Coverage in Africa Preliminary results of research conducted by Mercy Ships in 602 district hospitals in 32 sub Saharan African countries as part of the organization s engagement with African governments national and international partners and health experts revealed an alarming situation that requires action at all countries The goal of this research and the political commitment it fosters is to increase investment in improving surgical obstetric and anesthetic care systems by 2030 to achieve Universal Health Coverage When you understand that one in four district hospitals for example do not have water or electricity and only one in twenty five have an Internet connection in this century of computerization it helps you identify the areas where improvement is most needed done says Dr M Pele This is why initiatives like baseline assessment are so important The survey is helping national leadership identify gaps in areas such as infrastructure human resources service delivery information management finance impact of Covid 19 on surgery governance and leadership as well as pediatric surgery The survey findings confirm the need for infrastructure investment continuing education and surgical support in Africa and highlight the value and urgent need for Mercy Ships work in collaboration with African nations It is a topic that Dr M Pele addressed in his recent op ed entitled Health in Africa the tree that hides the forest https bit ly 3dNLY4r and which he discussed with the Commissioner of the African Union for Education Science Technology and Innovation HE Prof Mohamed Belhocine who granted him an audience on September 7 2022 in Addis Ababa Ethiopia He also shared his thoughts with key stakeholders during his recent visit to Europe As a decisive step towards advancing political dialogue on ways to strengthen health systems within AU member countries the results of the survey will be delivered to the African Union Commission by the end of the year It is hoped that it will prompt other member countries to join the six African states Cameroon Comoros Congo Gambia Guinea Bissau and Senegal that have adopted the Dakar Declaration The Declaration may be ambitious but it offers hope of filling the health care gap for most of Africa s populations Mercy Ship s wish is that all African leaders governments and partners commit to the necessary financial investment to develop concrete actions to improve the health of the continent s populations especially the poorest
Committed partnerships are the best way to ensure all Africans have access to life-saving surgical procedures

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Africa Office Director

As Mercy Ships (www.MercyShips.Africa) marks 30 years of service to the continent, providing free surgical care, training and support from its hospital ships to local development projects in Africa, its Africa Office Director, Dr. Pierre M‘Pele calls for continuous vigilance and tireless pursuit of efforts to improve the level of health of African populations.

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Life expectancy in Africa has increased by 10 years since 2000, as a result of interventions such as the implementation of the Millennium 2000-2015 and the successful commitments made by national governments under the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 2015-2030.

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Working to serve the greatest number of people in a sustainable manner, having a people-centered vision and planning for greater investment in health as part of national development programs, together with good democratic governance, stability and economic growth have also positively influenced health.

indicators across the continent.

“We absolutely must celebrate these positive results, however, we must be cautious and avoid complacency, because this positive news is a tree that hides the forest,” says Dr. M’Pele. “A third of clinical conditions in Africa require surgical, obstetric and anesthetic care, and yet there is less than one surgical specialist per 100,000 population, making surgery a particularly neglected component of health systems in Africa.

It is a critical area where a lot of improvement is needed.

While much of the world is looking to the latest technologies to improve its clinical care, we say there is still a lot of work to be done in Africa to increase the number of qualified, specialized and dedicated doctors and nurses as well.” Access to quality, safe and affordable surgical, obstetric and anesthetic care is a luxury in most African countries, and especially for the poorest populations.

The challenge of equity and the integration of surgical and anesthetic care in national health systems are prerequisites for achieving Universal Health Coverage in Africa.

Preliminary results of research conducted by Mercy Ships in 602 district hospitals in 32 sub-Saharan African countries as part of the organization’s engagement with African governments, national and international partners, and health experts revealed an alarming situation that requires action at all countries.

“The goal of this research, and the political commitment it fosters, is to increase investment in improving surgical, obstetric and anesthetic care systems by 2030 to achieve Universal Health Coverage.

When you understand that one in four district hospitals, for example, do not have water or electricity, and only one in twenty-five have an Internet connection in this century of computerization, it helps you identify the areas where improvement is most needed.

done,” says Dr. M’Pele. This is why initiatives like baseline assessment are so important.

The survey is helping national leadership identify gaps in areas such as infrastructure, human resources, service delivery, information management, finance, impact of Covid-19 on surgery, governance and leadership, as well as pediatric surgery.

The survey findings confirm the need for infrastructure investment, continuing education and surgical support in Africa, and highlight the value and urgent need for Mercy Ships’ work in collaboration with African nations.

It is a topic that Dr. M’Pele addressed in his recent op-ed entitled “Health in Africa: the tree that hides the forest” (https://bit.ly/3dNLY4r), and which he discussed with the Commissioner of the African Union for Education, Science, Technology and Innovation, HE Prof. Mohamed Belhocine, who granted him an audience on September 7, 2022 in Addis-Ababa, Ethiopia.

He also shared his thoughts with key stakeholders during his recent visit to Europe.

As a decisive step towards advancing political dialogue on ways to strengthen health systems within AU member countries, the results of the survey will be delivered to the African Union Commission by the end of the year.

It is hoped that it will prompt other member countries to join the six African states (Cameroon, Comoros, Congo, Gambia, Guinea Bissau and Senegal) that have adopted the Dakar Declaration.

The Declaration may be ambitious, but it offers hope of filling the health care gap for most of Africa’s populations.

Mercy Ship’s wish is that all African leaders, governments and partners commit to the necessary financial investment to develop concrete actions to improve the health of the continent’s populations, especially the poorest.

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