Achieving Universal Healthcare by 2030 — the role of the African Diaspora
Written by Tumi Sotire 18/02/2021
We are now in 2021. There are 9 years left for countries to meet the 2030 sustainable development goals(SDGs) one of them being Universal Healthcare Coverage (1,2). The challenge to execute and meet this goal on time was a mammoth task. Furthermore, due to the global pandemic, the challenge of accomplishing this SDG has become significantly more challenging.
When tasks become difficult, ask for help — a logical thing to do — to increase the workforce’s capacity to deal with the problem. This is the reason why conversations about the African diaspora within the continent’s various health systems become ever more crucial.
The need to address the brain drain:
The constant haemorrhaging of some of Africa’s most remarkable minds is one of the reasons why the road to achieving universal healthcare (UHC) is a long one.
Four of the poorest countries in Africa have over 50% of their nurses who migrate to Europe and North America. These nations are Liberia, Burundi, Gambia, and Mauritius. (3).
According to WHO many sub-Saharan countries have 0.2 doctors for every 1000 people (3) . A significant proportion of Africa’s most talented workforce is not working on the continent. 1 in 9 of Africa’s population with a tertiary education(e.g. University degree) does not live in Africa(4 ).
Due to the complexity of healthcare, the number of doctors or nurses to a given number of the population does not describe the magnitude of the detrimental impact the ‘brain drain’ can have on a nation’s healthcare system. A thriving healthcare system needs a varied workforce with: researchers, lecturers, pharmacists, economists, statisticians, policymakers, operational managers, IT specialists, etc. Therefore, to make significant improvements to Africa’s health system, we must address the ‘drain’. By leveraging the capacity of the Diaspora, it is possible to convert the ‘brain drain’ to ‘brain gain’.
The Diaspora: Africa’s brain gain
The ‘brain gain’ is the inverse of the ‘brain drain’. What is the diaspora doing to contribute to the continent’s development? What role the African diaspora should play in this development is the current debate.
As we embark in the third decade of the 21st century, I believe that the diaspora would…