Critical thinking needed to meet health needs of Africa – Bawumia
The rapid growth in the population of the world, but most especially on the African continent requires immediate, critical thinking on ways to ensure the provision of quality, affordable and accessible primary healthcare, Vice President Dr Mahamudu Bawumia has observed.
Data from health service providers, which shows a continent witnessing the double burden of fighting both communicable and non-communicable diseases in a resource-constrained environment has made the gravity of the situation even more pronounced, and calls for urgent action.
The Vice President gave the call to action when he addressed the 22nd Annual Conference of the Association Of Medical Councils Of Africa (AMCOA) at Senchi near Akosombo on Wednesday 25th July, 2018. The meeting is being attended by medical and dental councils from 22 African countries including Nigeria, South Africa, Kenya, Uganda, Zambia and Liberia.
“When you look at the way forward, and look a little bit into the future it gets a little scary when you think that Africa’s population growth is increasing, even though fertility rates have declined. By 2050, Africa will be the largest continent in terms of population in the world. We will have a quarter of the world’s population. Currently, Africa has the youngest population in the world; 60% of Africa’s population is below 25” Vice President Bawumia indicated.
He continued, “So we really need to think very carefully about how to emphasise the whole issue of primary health care, because if you don’t, fundamentally it becomes very difficult in terms of the economic constraints to deliver health care. But if we focus on primary health care, as we have been told by all of you to do, then I think we will have a better handle on the higher population that our respective countries have to deal with in the not-too-distant future. 2050 is about 32 years away. It is not that far and with medical advances I’m sure most of us in this room may be alive to see 2050.”
This expected population increase, with its attendant medical, educational and other needs, will also have to be met with the limited resources, including human, available, Vice President Bawumia noted.
“We have to see how we can improve our healthcare systems. As Prof Kwame Nyame (Chairman, Ghana Medical and Dental Council) has said, we need about 1.3 million health professionals in Africa. That is huge. Have we put in place the necessary infrastructure to be able to train this quantum, and are we putting in place the necessary resources to be able to get this quantum of health professionals trained?”
Alluding to the challenges faced by medical personnel, especially doctors, trained outside Ghana, who have to write and pass a number of exams before being allowed to practice in the country, Vice President Bawumia called on the Ghana Medical and Dental Council to put in place a system to accredit qualified training institutions across the world whose products meet the Ghanaian standard of training.
“Unfortunately, over the years, I am informed that results from Medical and Dental Council Ghana Registration Examinations for these foreign-trained practitioners wishing to permanently practice in the country have shown varying competencies that raise quality and safety concerns.
“But I think ultimately we want to be assured that the schools at which our potential doctors are trained abroad have met the requisite standards for any doctor that will practice. That is something that we should be thinking about.
“May I suggest that the Medical and Dental Council should look at all the training schools around the world and say ‘these are the ones we will accept and maybe these ones we don’t think they meet the standards.’ So that for anybody deciding to go and train in any country they should be aware that this school has not met the standard required in Ghana.”