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Health experts seek partnerships to
improve access to healthcare in Africa

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Experts drawn from the pharmaceutical industry in Africa on Monday called for strategic partnerships between both the public and private sectors to improve healthcare delivery in the sub-Saharan region.

Speaking in Nairobi during a conference on Improving Access to Medicines through Partnerships in Sub-Saharan Africa organized by Takeda, a pharmaceutical company, the team of experts noted that a majority of patients arrive too late for healthcare due to lack of awareness on health issues or lack of access to healthcare facilities.

Josh Ruxin, Co-Founder and Executive Chairman of Goodlife Pharmacies, said billions of dollars have been pumped into the sub-Saharan region to combat ailments such as HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis often yielding tremendous results.

“However, the tide has changed. Other diseases, especially Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) such as heart disease, diabetes and cancer are now the leading cause of death,” said Ruxin in a keynote address.

He said there was a need to rationalize healthcare systems and channel funds toward increased access to basic health services and access to essential medicines.

According to data from International Finance Corporation, sub-Saharan Africa is ranked as having the worst health on average in the world. The region has 11 percent of the world’s population but carries 24 percent of the global disease burden.

Ruxin noted that in Kenya alone, non-communicable diseases account for more than 50 percent of total hospital admissions and over 55 percent of hospital deaths.

Disease such as cancer, hypertension, and diabetes are becoming commonplace due to more sedentary lifestyles and shifts in eating habits.

Healthcare has increasingly become an economic burden to the family unit in Africa and a leading cause for emerging consumers to fall back into poverty.

It is now estimated that Kenyans spend about 100 million dollars annually overseas on cancer treatment.

Ruxin noted that it was critical for the renewed effort to improve healthcare in the region to focus on developing sustainable, mutually beneficial partnerships that span from the public to the private sector.



Tanzania works to control antibiotics resistance

DAR ES SALAAM Tanzania (Xinhua) -- Tanzanian health authorities said on Monday plans were afoot to control rising antibiotics resistance among patients in the east African nation.

Mohamed Kambi, the country’s chief medical officer, said the government was laying groundwork for a national action plan to control the rising trend of antibiotics resistance.

He said One-Health, a collaborative approach involving experts in veterinary medicine and those in the health sector, would help tackle antibiotic resistance in a holistic manner.

Kambi’s statement came after two key studies carried out in Tanzania exposed antibiotic resistance that threatened treatment effectiveness, with experts urging a review of prescription practices.

Kambi said the national action plan to curb antibiotic resistance would, apart from experts on animal medicine, involve the National Food and Drugs Authority (TFDA), the pharmaceutical authorities and all health stakeholders in the country.

“The action plan will also address the behavioral, legal and social implications of bacterial resistance,” said Kambi.

Researchers said the common antibiotics being prescribed routinely in Tanzania were now losing effectiveness due to lack of clear policies guiding medical practitioners on how and when to give medications.

Experts said resistant organisms are passed from animals on to humans through consumption of meat, milk and other animal products.

Last year, Said Aboud, an expert on bacteriology, analyzed how antibiotics resistance was affecting the country in many sectors, through his publication in the Centre for Disease Dynamics Economics and Policy.

One key issue he tackled was the contribution of animal products in the rise of antibiotic resistance.

Aboud said: “This contributes to the decline towards ineffective antibiotics, like an approaching siren, getting louder and louder.”

Last year, the heads of state and government at the United Nations General Assembly in New York committed to taking a broad, coordinated approach to address the root causes of antibiotic resistance across multiple sectors, especially human health, animal health and agriculture.

The World Health Organization (WHO) says globally, 480, 000 people develop multi-drug resistant tuberculosis each year, and drug resistance is starting to complicate the fight against HIV and malaria.


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