The continent is poorly equipped in health treatments and surgeries due to a lack of expertise and well-equipped hospitals. This is due to scarce funding in health care, a weak health education system, and in some cases poverty and political instability.
In most of the 54 countries, Africans are not able to get proper treatments and surgeries. The medical outcomes are not all impressive, with a large number of failures resulting in death.P
As per the study by Lancet the poverty-ridden continent has a disastrous medical outcomes in case of major surgeries performed. The study was conducted on patients from twenty-five countries comprising 11,422 patients. One in five developed post-operative complications of which 5.6 percent died. The figure is much higher as compared to that of developed Nations which stands at 2.8 %. The hospitals and clinics are poorly equipped for vital post-operative care. Lack of ventilators and other medical devices, lack of ICU units, and allied staff are apparent in most hospitals. These are crucial as support systems lack which makes surgeries and health treatments an abject failure.
Thus, most of those belonging to the affluent segments of the population seek treatment abroad in countries like India which offer low-cost treatment packages and are quality driven. This attraction towards Asian countries is the same as regards non-invasive treatments as well. The scope of surgical interventions and disease treatments is limited due to the lack of expert surgeons and doctors, the need for international health travel, therefore, has become an imperative.
ART in Africa
Infertility is a major problem in lower resource countries, especially in sub–The Saharan region. There are several factors that act as impediments to ART applications some of them are epidemiological, geographical, and socio-cultured barriers in addition to poor investment capabilities in infrastructure.
The regions in the Central and Southern continent have a high incidence of infertility, for example in Namibia it is as much as 32%. Leaving aside Egypt, fertility treatments in the continent are poor and costly due to the absence of the latest technological devices as well as lack of expertise. The major challenge is to reduce costs by inducting the latest techniques and technology besides increasing trained staff and fertility specialists. Further, the countries need to introduce a reimbursement policy to reduce the cost of IVF.
So far developments in ART have been not up to the mark due to feeble desires among the countries to fund the health care system. As per the demand based on population, the continent needs a capacity of at least 1500 IVF cycles per million people. In a population of 1.2 billion with an infertility rate of 9% to 12% about 180 million Cycles are required annually.
About 61% of the countries in the continent do not have a registered ART unit while most of the units are in Egypt, South Africa, and Nigeria. They have 55 registered units as per ANARA, an acronym for African Network of Assisted Productive Technologies. The latest figure would stand at 150 plus units in total that including the figure by ANARA.
The hospitals need to conduct 5000 surgical interventions both major and minor for 100,000 people. This is imperative for the health concerns of a community. In Africa, the figure is 20 times lower than the optimum figure stated here.
The continent has only one center for cardiac treatments and open-heart surgery among 50 million people. For example, open-heart surgeries are conducted in a few nations Senegal, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, and in the sub-Saharan region in Sudan and South Africa. The number is insignificant whence compared with developed nations like USA and UK.
In absence of an adequate number of specialist surgeons, many countries in the continent rely on physicians and non-physician-clinicians to perform surgery in order to increase access. This is a desperate measure and results in many fatalities that could have been prevented by a surgeon.
The impact of communicable diseases, trauma, cancer, cardiovascular ailments, bone disorders, and the rising number of accidents is increasing the surgical burden in Africa. Surgical care is worst in rural confines while there is a marginal improvement in some urban agglomerations due to better-funded referral hospitals.
Few countries are able to spend WHO designated amount of $40 dollars per person in the continent. IFC, an acronym for International Financial Corporation estimates an investment of USD 30 billion will be needed in the coming decade to improve the health care infrastructure. It is also required urgently to integrate government, investors, donors, and private players to leverage health care providers especially the public health system in Africa to bring about a productive difference.