Health in Africa: …and get back to basics

BMJ 2005; 331 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.331.7521.905-a (Published 13 October 2005) Cite this as: BMJ 2005;331:905
  1. Albert M E Coleman (albert.coleman{at}gmail.com), associate specialist psychiatrist
  1. Greenacres Community Mental Health Trust, Worthing and Southlands Hospitals NHS Trust, Worthing, West Sussex BN11 2DH

    EDITOR—More of the same will not ease Africa's health crisis.1 As an African with training and work experience in international health, I think that we need to go back to basics.

    Reducing poverty may be a starting point. However, when it comes to rational use of the meagre monetary resources in sub-Saharan Africa, inefficient management of resources and corruption become serious stumbling blocks. Granted that corruption is almost worldwide, its rampant nature in Africa causes problems with monies available, received, and disbursed by the appropriate agencies in some countries.2

    As to efficient use of meagre resources, some countries outside Africa (for example, Jamaica) that are in the same developmental bracket as some African countries do far better with less.3 The general determinants of the health of populations show that an efficient, robust, and performing health services organisation is basic to the health of nations.4 Human capacity building, as the mainstay of all organisations, especially for health service delivery, research, etc, has suffered in most African countries, more so in recent times from net migration from sub-Saharan Africa to the developed world (or much wealthier developing countries).5 Sub-Saharan African governments and their developed counterparts need to work hard together to find pragmatic solutions to the brain drain problem.

    The health crisis in Africa will continue to be more of the same, unless we seriously tackle the underlying issues driving the crisis.


    • Competing interests None declared.


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