Healthcare in Africa: The Administrative Costs of Corruption
By admin April 6, 2016

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African countries, like most other developing countries, face challenges in their healthcare systems. The major issue in healthcare management falls into the management of public-private sectors and the problem of pricing.


Last month, South African Health Minister, Dr. Aaron Motsoaledi, criticized the healthcare system for being in a “sick situation” by “over-servicing of the rich and a gross under-servicing of the poor”. Moreover, the minister detailed some of the cost differences between private and public healthcare with no clinical reason for such difference. Accordingly, a lot of money paid to the private healthcare sector is mostly used for administrative purposes.


Meredith Dyson, a health system-strengthening expert who has been working in Sierra Leone, states similar concerns in other African nations. According to Dyson, healthcare funding is not used efficiently and financial sources become exhausted by corruption and other “administrative costs”.


In the case of South Africa, Health Minister Dr. Motsoaledi believes that two issues need to be addressed: the quality of service in the public healthcare sector and the exorbitant prices in private healthcare. Both of these concerns can be partially addressed by a strong “primary healthcare” which deals with “the promotion of health and the prevention of diseases”.


In both cases, smart utilization of available technologies can mitigate the problems with administrative costs and the basic access to knowledge about disease prevention. For instance, Mobile Health (mHealth) has promised new opportunities for more accessible, faster and cost effective solutions regarding some perennial problems such as HIV/AIDS, TB, and Malaria in Africa.


As an example, US-based Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation recently announced a request for proposals to develop a mobile app which records patient information to track their clinic appointments, alerting them about appointment dates, and facilitates patient tracking and report on outcomes of HIV and TB prevention, care and treatment program. This technology, as a result, can bypass the need for much administrative labor and can result in lower costs and higher efficiency.


In Malawi, UNICEF has launched a drone program by which the local clinics can transport blood samples faster to accelerate the testing and diagnosis of HIV in infants. There are multiple mobile apps and mobile-based services that help women in childbirth and pregnancy in developing countries to fill their knowledge-gap in basic maternal healthcare.


These technologies can add to countries capacity to regulate, bypass and observe the healthcare system. This, however, is not to claim that technology can cure the deeper structural problems in these healthcare systems. Educating and graduating enough doctors and setting well-planned public policies are issues that still must be addressed.


The list of potential technologies in healthcare can go on. However the message is clear: if these apps, drones and other ICT and innovative technologies can be employed intelligently, they can reduce our dependency on administrative procedures and they can expose corruption more easily and ultimately lead to more transparency, benefiting those who needs the services the most.


For more information:

Local resident working to improve healthcare delivery in African countries

How we can capitalise on mHealth opportunities in Africa

Malawi turns to drones to bolster child healthcare in remote communities

8 apps revolutionizing maternal health care in developing nations

Private healthcare in South Africa faces government invervention

Thanks for sharing !

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