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Healthcare in Africa: The Patient Perspective - Cape Town, South Africa - February 19-20 2013
by IAPO at 5:22PM Wednesday 03 April 2013 (News)

The Economist's second annual Healthcare in Africa conference was held in Cape Town from 19 to 20 February 2013. The conference exchanged best models in healthcare and generated dialogue and open debate about the status of healthcare in Africa. This year’s conference had one perspective in mind; the patient. While patient-centred healthcare approaches are becoming mainstream elsewhere in the world, they have had limited success in Africa. This conference sought to change this by bringing influential stakeholders together to analyse how African governments, providers of health services, the wider healthcare industry, patient-led groups and international and local aid organizations can collaborate to put the patient at the centre of African healthcare. 

The consensus was that all healthcare stakeholders  have a significant role to play towards improvements in healthcare in Africa. The opening session; “Where next for Healthcare in Africa” was eloquently presented by Dr. Uzziel Ndagijimana PhD, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Health, Rwanda, who outlined how other African countries can re-engineer their healthcare systems.

IAPO Chair, Durhane Wong-Rieger, presented at the conference, highlighting the traditional paternalistic model, used to practice medicine. Durhane went on to explain how healthcare has metamorphosed through the decades. In her conclusion, she noted that patient-centred healthcare in Africa was in its infancy, but in a new and exciting phase. Durhane informed delegates about the work of IAPO and its collaborative role at WHO, particularly in the Africa Region, whose affiliates were represented by patient groups from Uganda, Nigeria and South Africa.

It was exciting to see IAPO members from the Africa region actively participating as discussants at the conference. They each gave views and examples on how African Ministers of Health must begin to engage patients as the primary drivers of change in healthcare delivery. Regina Namata Kamoga, Country Manager of the Community Health and Information Network (CHAIN) in Uganda and IAPO Governing Board Member, cited the IAPO Declaration on Patient-Centred Healthcare and IAPO's work on patient safety as examples of patient-centred initiatives.

Elizabeth Matare, CEO of the South African Depression and Anxiety Group, highlighted the importance of incorporating patients’ needs through consultative processes and including patient’s perspectives and contributions in bridging the gaps in healthcare delivery in Africa. Elizabeth stressed that pathways to universal healthcare in Africa can only be determined through collaboration which addresses cultures, socio-economic factors, political stability and health financing. She called for inclusive patient participation in Africa on policy formulation, health planning, prioritisation, and health financing. Bisi Bright, The CEO and Founder of LiveWell Initiative in Nigeria, spoke on: "Getting Tough on Non Communicable Diseases" and how LiveWell seeks to introduce innovative programmes into the social space “easy health” package to basic healthcare to clients homes through a mobile health solution.

Conference delegates included; representatives of IAPO member the Patient Health Alliance of Non Governmental Organisations (PHANGO), and Ministers of Health and representatives from Mozambique, Rwanda, Kenya and NigeriaFind out more about the conference

Photos courtesty of Luleko Mbadamane: Senior Photographer, Daily Sun: Cape Town

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