Friday, July 13, 2012

Equatorial Guinea Leads Africa In Per Capita Health Investment

Improvement of public health and health infrastructure is a national priority in Equatorial Guinea.
Equatorial Guinea and Botswana lead Africa in per capita investments in health care, according to a World Health Organization (WHO) report, but the gap in spending between Africa and the rest of the world is still a concern.  The statistics are from the WHO’s 2012 Health Financing and Health MDGs (Millennium Development Goals) Scorecard and Africa’s first Multi Year Health Financing Trends Analysis.
The surveys show Equatorial Guinea’s per capita annual spending at $612 and Botswana’s at $442.
The survey results were presented by Rotimi Sankore to the WHO’s Joint Conference of Finance and Health Ministers, which met in Tunis July 4-5. Sankore is also coordinator of the Africa Public Health Alliance and 15%+ Campaign, a non-profit organization promoting health development and financing across Africa, and secretary of Africa Public Health Parliamentary Network.
Sankore described the gap in health investment between industrialized and developing countries as “too wide.” He said that investment in the Africa region is as low as $41 per person, with an overall 9.6.percent of budget in Africa dedicated to health. That compares with 16.9 percent in the Americas, 14.6 percent in Europe, and 14.4 percent in the western Pacific region. Average regional per capita spending is $1,566 in America and $1,677 in Europe, he said.
The World Health Organization has urged African governments to increase investment in health. Equatorial Guinea’s per capita investment of $612 compares to South Africa at $228 and Morocco at $59, and neighbors Gabon and Cameroon at $127 and $16, respectively. Figures for each nation can be affected by the availability of private health care.
Equatorial Guinea was ranked number 40 in percentage of national budget dedicated to health at 7.2%, which reflects the large share of the national budget dedicated to a broad range of infrastructure projects, including education, highways, electrification and communications.
Sankore compared Equatorial Guinea and Botswana with Cuba, at $623, and Costa Rica, at $449. He said that although the investments were similar, the health outcomes are better in Costa Rica and Cuba due to better education and retention of health workers, greater availability of clean water, superior sanitation, hygiene and nutrition, more equitable distribution of health services, and better vaccine coverage. 
Improving the health infrastructure in Equatorial Guinea is one of the principal goals of President Obiang Nguema Mbasogo’s Horizon 2020 development program. Equatorial Guinea has heavily invested in its public health sector and contributed to international efforts to improve public health, particularly in Africa. The government donated $15.8 million to reduce malaria in children last May 2011. In 2010, the government donated $1.5 million and a headquarters facility to the World Health Organization to support research for global health.
Equatorial Guinea has also provided technical assistance to the local United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) to improve the effectiveness of its assistance program and has implemented a host of health programs geared toward improving the health of Equatorial Guineans. Basic health indicators such as rates of infant and child mortality have been improving steadily in the country, and the government is widely recognized for its efforts to eradicate malaria.