Funding Gaps Could Hinder Future Of Health Care In Africa, Report Says

The “improvement and extension of health care in Africa is … being constrained by gaps in financing,” according to a new report (.pdf) by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) based on research commissioned by Janssen Pharmaceutica, a Belgian subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson, the Financial Times’ “beyondbrics” blog reports (Wheatley, 3/1). The report, titled “The Future of Healthcare in Africa,” “discusses the continent’s traditional health care issues, such as communicable diseases or financing health care in economically difficult circumstances” and “also addresses less well-known topics, such as the threat of obesity and heart disease, the use of mobile technology, development of more preventive care, and more,” according to the Janssen website (3/1). The report “identif[ies] the key trends shaping African health care systems” and uses them “to develop [five] scenarios that depict the possible health landscape on the continent in 2022,” a Janssen press release (.pdf) states (3/1).

The scenarios, which are presented “as different but complementary visions of the future” with the possibility of “elements of each … coexist[ing] with others,” include emphasizing primary health care and education on healthy lifestyles; facilitating health care ownership on local levels; implementing universal health care coverage through public and private insurance schemes; using telemedicine to extend the reach of health care services; and encouraging local manufacturing and supply of medicine and equipment, according to the blog. “But the report says these scenarios are unlikely to develop over the next decade” because of several challenges, including funding, “changing attitudes to cooperation between the public and private sectors, and putting greater emphasis on primary care for the poor,” the blog writes (3/1).