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Healthy life expectancy in Africa increases by almost ten years

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  Healthy life expectancy in the African region has increased by an average of 10 years per person between 2000 and 2019 according to an assessment by the World Health Organization WHO This increase is greater than in any other region of the world during the same period The report also notes that the disruptive impact of the COVID 19 pandemic could threaten these enormous achievements The WHO Africa Region Universal Health Coverage Tracking 2022 report shows that healthy life expectancy or the number of years a person is in good health increased to 56 years in 2019 compared with 46 in 2000 Although still well below the global average of 64 during the same period global healthy life expectancy increased by only five years Improvements in the provision of essential health services advances in reproductive maternal newborn and child health as well as advances in the fight against infectious diseases thanks to the rapid expansion of measures to control HIV tuberculosis and malaria beginning in 2005 helped extend healthy life expectancy On average coverage of essential health services improved to 46 in 2019 compared to 24 in 2000 The most significant gains were in the prevention and treatment of infectious diseases but this was offset by the drastic increase in hypertension diabetes and other non communicable diseases and the lack of health services directed at these diseases The marked increase in healthy life expectancy over the last two decades is a testament to the region s drive to improve the health and well being of the population In essence it means more people living longer healthier lives with fewer infectious disease threats and better access to disease prevention and care services said Dr Matshidiso Moeti WHO Regional Director for Africa But progress must not stall Unless countries improve measures against the threat of cancer and other noncommunicable diseases health gains could be jeopardized Progress in healthy life expectancy could also be undermined by the impact of the COVID 19 pandemic unless robust recovery plans are instituted On average African countries reported higher disruptions to essential services compared to other regions More than 90 of the 36 countries that responded to a 2021 WHO survey reported one or more interruptions in essential health services with immunization neglected tropical diseases and nutrition services experiencing the greatest interruptions Efforts have been made to restore essential services affected by the pandemic However to improve health services and ensure that they are adequate of good quality and accessible to all it is essential that governments increase funding for public health Most governments in Africa fund less than 50 of their national health budgets leading to large funding gaps Only Algeria Botswana Cape Verde Eswatini Gabon Seychelles and South Africa finance more than 50 of their national health budgets COVID 19 has shown how investing in health is critical to a country s security The better Africa can cope with pandemics and other health threats the more our people and economies will prosper I urge governments to invest in health and be prepared to deal with the next pathogen that comes our way said Dr Moeti One of the key measures to improve access to health services is for governments to reduce catastrophic household out of pocket expenses Health spending is considered non catastrophic when families spend less than 10 of their income on health expenses regardless of their poverty level Over the last 20 years out of pocket spending has either stagnated or increased in 15 countries The WHO report also looked at differences in healthy life expectancy and health service coverage by country income level and geographic location High and upper middle income countries tend to have better health service coverage and longer healthy life expectancies at birth than low income countries with around 10 additional years of healthy life expectancy The report recommends that countries accelerate efforts to improve financial risk protection rethink and reactivate health service delivery with a focus on incorporating non communicable health services as part of essential health services involving to communities and the private sector It also recommends implementing subnational system monitoring systems so that countries can better capture early warning signs of health threats and system failures
Healthy life expectancy in Africa increases by almost ten years

1 Healthy life expectancy in the African region has increased by an average of 10 years per person between 2000 and 2019, according to an assessment by the World Health Organization (WHO).

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2 This increase is greater than in any other region of the world during the same period.

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3 The report also notes that the disruptive impact of the COVID-19 pandemic could threaten these enormous achievements.

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4 The WHO Africa Region Universal Health Coverage Tracking 2022 report shows that healthy life expectancy, or the number of years a person is in good health, increased to 56 years in 2019, compared with 46 in 2000.

5 Although still well below the global average of 64, during the same period, global healthy life expectancy increased by only five years.

6 Improvements in the provision of essential health services, advances in reproductive, maternal, newborn and child health, as well as advances in the fight against infectious diseases, thanks to the rapid expansion of measures to control HIV, tuberculosis and malaria beginning in 2005.

7 helped extend healthy life expectancy.

8 On average, coverage of essential health services improved to 46% in 2019, compared to 24% in 2000.

9 The most significant gains were in the prevention and treatment of infectious diseases, but this was offset by the drastic increase in hypertension, diabetes and other non-communicable diseases and the lack of health services directed at these diseases.

10 “The marked increase in healthy life expectancy over the last two decades is a testament to the region’s drive to improve the health and well-being of the population.

11 In essence, it means more people living longer, healthier lives, with fewer infectious disease threats and better access to disease prevention and care services,” said Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa.

12 .

13 “But progress must not stall.

14 Unless countries improve measures against the threat of cancer and other noncommunicable diseases, health gains could be jeopardized.”

15 Progress in healthy life expectancy could also be undermined by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic unless robust recovery plans are instituted.

16 On average, African countries reported higher disruptions to essential services compared to other regions.

17 More than 90% of the 36 countries that responded to a 2021 WHO survey reported one or more interruptions in essential health services, with immunization, neglected tropical diseases and nutrition services experiencing the greatest interruptions.

18 Efforts have been made to restore essential services affected by the pandemic.

19 However, to improve health services and ensure that they are adequate, of good quality and accessible to all, it is essential that governments increase funding for public health.

20 Most governments in Africa fund less than 50% of their national health budgets, leading to large funding gaps.

21 Only Algeria, Botswana, Cape Verde, Eswatini, Gabon, Seychelles and South Africa finance more than 50% of their national health budgets.

22 “COVID-19 has shown how investing in health is critical to a country’s security.

23 The better Africa can cope with pandemics and other health threats, the more our people and economies will prosper.

24 I urge governments to invest in health and be prepared to deal with the next pathogen that comes our way,” said Dr. Moeti.

25 One of the key measures to improve access to health services is for governments to reduce catastrophic household out-of-pocket expenses.

26 Health spending is considered non-catastrophic when families spend less than 10% of their income on health expenses, regardless of their poverty level.

27 Over the last 20 years, out-of-pocket spending has either stagnated or increased in 15 countries.

28 The WHO report also looked at differences in healthy life expectancy and health service coverage by country income level and geographic location.

29 High- and upper-middle-income countries tend to have better health service coverage and longer healthy life expectancies at birth than low-income countries, with around 10 additional years of healthy life expectancy.

30 The report recommends that countries accelerate efforts to improve financial risk protection, rethink and reactivate health service delivery with a focus on incorporating non-communicable health services as part of essential health services, involving to communities and the private sector.

31 It also recommends implementing subnational system monitoring systems so that countries can better capture early warning signs of health threats and system failures.

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