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Healthcare in Ghana
Healthcare in Ghana has many levels to it. There are three primary levels: national, regional and district. Within these, there are different types of providers: health posts, health centers/clinics, district hospitals, regional hospitals and tertiary hospitals. On average, Ghana spends 6% of its gross domestic product on healthcare, and the quality of healthcare varies by region. Here are four facts about healthcare in Ghana.

4 Facts About Healthcare in Ghana

  1. Ghana has a public insurance system. In 2003, Ghana made the switch from the “cash and carry” system to public insurance. The “cash and carry” health system required patients to pay for their treatments before receiving care. Because of this process, few people were able to afford treatment. In response, the government established the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS). This system provides wide coverage, covering 95% of the diseases that affect Ghana. The coverage includes treatment for malaria, respiratory diseases, diarrhea and more. Between 2006 and 2009, the proportion of the population registered to NHIS increased by 44%
  2. Child mortality rates have decreased. Data from 2019 showed that 50 out of 1000 babies die before the age of five. While this may appear unsettling at first, the twice as high a few decades earlier. In low-income communities, there is a higher risk of death because of limited access to healthcare. To help prevent this, the NHIS provides maternity care, including cesarean deliveries. In the 1990s, Dr. Ayaga Bawah began a study to provide healthcare in rural areas to see if it would decrease mortality rates. Between 1995 and 2005, the study showed that when qualified nurses were working in communities, there was an equal distribution of child mortality throughout the country, rather than mostly in rural communities.
  3. Access to health services has increased. In rural communities, health posts are the primary healthcare providers. A 2019 study found that 81.4% of the population had access to primary healthcare in Ghana, while 61.4% have access to secondary-level, and 14.3% to tertiary care. Despite these relatively high rates of accessibility, approximately 30% of the population has to travel far to access primary facilities or see a specialist. To increase access to services, Ghana’s president, Nana Akufo-Addo, stated in June 2020 that he intended to build 88 more district hospitals.
  4. More and more scientists are being trained. Throughout Africa, scientists are being trained to improve research and the dissemination of information. The World Economic Forum has pushed for research in programs such as Human Health and Heredity in Africa. This program is dedicated to helping local institutes manage the diseases and conditions that affect its area. Another group, H3-D, trains scientists in many African countries, including Ghana, to focus on conditions that are prevalent in Africa, such as malaria, tuberculosis and cardiovascular disease.

These four facts about healthcare in Ghana illuminate the progress that has been made, as well as the work that still needs to be done. While healthcare has improved, the government must take more steps to increase accessibility for all throughout the country. With a continued focus on healthcare, Ghana will hopefully continue to provide more communities with health services.

Sarah Kirchner
Photo: Flickr

3 Ways the UN is Helping Zimbabwe Provide Better Health Care For AllThe country of Zimbabwe has a poverty index of approximately 38%, making it one of Africa’s most impoverished countries. The COVID-19 pandemic has only made the situation worse, with the virus disproportionately impacting the poor. The novel coronavirus is threatening Zimbabwe’s already-fragile health care system, which has been afflicted by past bouts of HIV and AIDS. The United Nations is working closely with the World Health Organization to educate the citizens of Zimbabwe on COVID-19 and ensure that the country’s residents follow the most up-to-date safety guidelines.

The COVID-19 relief and prevention efforts are representative of a small part of Zimbabwe’s ongoing effort to better its health care. The rural-urban divide marked by the rich-poor split has grown largely along the lines of access to health care and proper medical needs. As such, Zimbabwe and humanitarian organizations, such as the United Nations, are working on ways to better health care for all citizens in Zimbabwe.

3 Ways the UN is Supporting Zimbabwe Provide Better Health Care for All

  1. Fighting misinformation with awareness — In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, combatting misinformation has become a top priority. The UN is working carefully to connect local journalists with government officials to ensure that people are well educated and have relevant information. In addition, the UN is strongly advocating for more broadcast programs geared toward the elderly, disabled and poor as this demographic is most vulnerable to the novel coronavirus and any other pertinent diseases. In keeping with this strategy, the UN brought together 55 Zimbabwe news outlet representatives and journalists to create a strategy to effectively distribute public health information. The move is a large step toward reaching the country’s 14 million residents.
  2. Creating role models — Wearing masks and exercising sanitation practices, such as hand-washing, are a few of the best ways to fight the spread of any disease. The UN aid groups encourage Zimbabwe news outlets to advertise these simple disease-prevention methods in a variety of ways. Firstly, journalists receive protective gear from employers, as well as provide protective equipment to interviewees to set an example for their viewers on television. Additionally, older children who are properly educated in handwashing techniques subsequently teach their peers in village societies. These methods collectively avoid putting increased strain on Zimbabwe’s hospital system, which many doctors argue is badly in need of reform. Currently, the government of Zimbabwe has shown an unwillingness to increase services, staff pay or important funding for doctors. However, recent strikes by health care workers have turned the tide against government inaction and encouraged intervention.
  3. Spreading music — Amid isolation in the time of the COVID-19 and lockdowns, more people are looking to music to alleviate their concerns. Zimbabwean performers have organized virtual concerts through UN support to provide listeners with relief from the struggles of COVID-19. The UN Communications Group oversees these events and plays a large role in their proper functioning. The Communications Group brings together more than 25 UN agencies in Zimbabwe. The message these music groups send has a specific purpose as well. They encircle the cause of ending the pandemic as quickly and effectively as possible while bolstering a sense of national unity.

With new government intervention to increase aid for public health and the tireless work of United Nations’ assistance, Zimbabwe’s health care system is slowly on the rise. The COVID-19 pandemic has only strengthened the resolve of the country to better health care for all. By fighting misinformation, elevating role models and spreading unity through love and music, Zimbabwe has shown how simple initiatives can lead to better living standards and improved national health.

– Mihir Gokhale
Photo: Flickr

Poverty in AngolaA whole 54% of Angola’s population of 30 million are multidimensionally poor or suffering from multiple deprivations in four categories: health, education, quality of life and employment. Angolan children under the age of 10 experience even more pronounced poverty and 90% of rural Angolan populations are multidimensionally poor. The overall poverty rate is 41% and the rural poverty rate at 57% is nearly double that of urban areas. Poverty in Angola is a significant issue especially within the context of the rural-urban divide.

The Rural-Urban Divide

In rural areas, Angolans are less likely to be employed and those who do work are mostly in subsistence agriculture. They also have fewer assets and cannot afford “luxuries” like attending school. Additionally, people in rural areas are more likely to be sick or to die early than those in urban settings.

In urban areas, 44% of households are employed and the majority of the rest are involved in informal economic roles like craftsmen, street vendors or informal shop owners. Despite access to employment, labor conditions are poor and incomes fluctuate. This means that people in rural areas are overall more destitute but they actually have a more predictable situation and at least have access to enough basic food and water to survive, while those in urban settings can experience periods of serious shortages.

Overall, poverty in Angola is multifaceted. In rural areas, it is materially severe but there are stronger safety nets in the form of access to land and agriculture. Urban poverty is less materially severe, with better access to employment and social goods, but people are more vulnerable to sudden shocks. The issue is not that only rural Angolans suffer from poverty but that the country at large is suffering and in need of a comprehensive plan to address all the different aspects of poverty in Angola.

World Vision International

World Vision has operated in Angola since 1989 to aid sustainable development in vulnerable areas, focusing on child protection, land ownership and health services. Overall, it has increased access to clean water for more than 50,000 Angolans and improved the health status of more than 1.5 million Angolan children and 25,000 Angolan mothers in rural areas, through increased access to health care and health education. World Vision helps approximately one million Angolans each year through its efforts at improving access to water and sanitation, strengthening civil society and social protection systems, improving educational access and aiding economic development through land ownership.

UNICEF

Larger NGOs like UNICEF have also addressed poverty in Angola. It has identified millions of people in need, especially children, and has looked to gather $15.8 million in funding to provide humanitarian assistance in the face of recent food insecurity, drought, malnutrition, economic insecurity, education issues and health crises in Angola. The organization’s goals for 2020 included screening almost 400,000 children for malnutrition, providing 150,000 children polio vaccines and providing access to primary education to 25,000 affected children. UNICEF is utilizing partnerships with Angolan government ministries, civil departments and national and international NGOs to accomplish these main goals and others, including hygiene education, increasing overall healthcare aid as well as protecting women and children.

The Road Ahead

Poverty has struck millions of people in Angola and it affects rural and urban Angolans in different ways. Despite the complexity of poverty in Angola, organizations like UNICEF and World Vision have stepped up to alleviate the pressure on Angolan families and children. While the crisis is far from solved, efforts like these provide hope for people in Angola in the face of global and regional disasters like the COVID-19 pandemic, prolonged drought and low crop yields.

– Connor Bradbury
Photo: Flickr

6 Facts About Healthcare In BulgariaBulgaria is an Eastern European country south of Greece, north of Romania, and east of the Black Sea. With a population of 7 million and cultural influence from the Ottoman Empire, Greece, and Persia, Bulgaria has a unique and diverse background. Healthcare is a vital aspect of European life and Bulgaria is no different. Here are facts about healthcare in this country.

Bulgaria Has Centralized Healthcare

Healthcare in Bulgaria is largely centralized, with the National Assembly, the National Health Insurance Fund, and the Ministry of Health being the main funders. Social single-payer healthcare is monitored through the NHIF, which covers services included in the benefits package and certain medications. Voluntary healthcare is administered by for-profit insurance companies and deals with both the citizens and providers.

These systems, working in collaboration with the Ministry of Health, fund services including emergency care in-patient mental health care and developing medical science. The amount of money spent on healthcare in Bulgaria continues to rise, but fees for citizens are staying the same.

The Bulgarian Healthcare System is Overcrowded

In 2016, Bulgaria had just over 321 hospitals and less than 50,000 beds as the population was continuing to grow. This led to a severe overcapacity of the healthcare system. Just over 5.5 % of working adults serve in the healthcare field. While the number of physicians has increased, general practitioners have been on the decline. This is partly due to aging and the ongoing emigration problem. The number of nurses has continued to be the EU’s worst rate with just 1.1 nurses per physician. Overall, healthcare in Bulgaria faces challenges such as a lack of medical equipment and healthcare providers.

Overall Health is On the Rise

The primary causes of death in Bulgaria are the same as in most European countries: Circulatory diseases, such as coronary heart failure and strokes, and cancers. Despite this, the standardized death rates for circulatory diseases have been steadily decreasing since the 1990s. Deaths by ischaemic heart disease fell by 30% from 2014 to 2015 and cancer deaths have been on the decline for over a decade. This positive trend is due to improved healthcare in Bulgaria and better lifestyle choices.

The Population is Declining

The Bulgarian population has been declining from nine million at the end of the 1980s to fewer than seven million by 2018. The primary reason is a low birthrate, compounded by a high rate of emigration. In 2015, over 13,000 citizens were leaving the country compared with only 9,000 foreigners entering. However, most Bulgarians end up immigrating to other European countries, with 0ver 60,000 Bulgarians migrating each year.

One reason for emigration is that the country is the poorest within the European Union, with most citizens unable to support themselves and healthcare in Bulgaria being difficult to access.

Bulgaria is Well Behind the Rest of the EU

Although healthcare in Bulgaria is good by some measures, the country is far behind the rest of the European Union. The quality of work is so low that protests have taken to the streets against low wages, corruption, and high bills. This led to the government resigning, causing more economic instability within the country. The unemployment rates are lower than in crisis-ridden nations; however, because of low wages, more Bulgarians are considering moving to Greece and Spain that have higher unemployment rates. Bulgaria is often referred to as the unhappiest country in the EU.

Bulgaria’s Increased Healthcare Spending

Healthcare in Bulgaria has been heavily altered by the novel coronavirus, with an increase in healthcare spending by 250 million leva or 123 million euros. Half of the increased spending will go to the National Health Insurance Fund that manages insurance and distributes funds to the healthcare system. A significant portion of the money will go to increasing the salaries of frontline medical staff until the end of the year as well as medical and other health personnel state institutions dealing with the pandemic.

Although Bulgaria is far behind the rest of the European Union in many different ways, Bulgaria is a progressive nation with universal healthcare and low hospital bills. With more investments in general practitioners and healthcare facilities, as well as better living conditions and incentives to increase the population, healthcare in Bulgaria will be stronger than ever.

– Breanna Bonner
Photo: Flickr

Healthcare Apps in Sub-Saharan Africa
Although sub-Saharan Africa accounts for nearly 11% of the world’s population, it carries approximately 24% of the global disease burden. The region spends less than 1% on global health expenditure and lacks a strong infrastructure to address its citizens’ healthcare necessities.

Advancements in technology may be the solution to this crisis. The mobile industry in sub-Saharan Africa is growing rapidly. In 2012, only 32% of the population had access to a mobile subscription. By 2018, the mobile industry saw a 12% increase in mobile penetration rates. As a result, innovative healthcare apps are being released on the market, allowing individuals to access medical services remotely. This article will focus on three innovative healthcare apps in sub-Saharan Africa that can be accessed through a mobile device.

Hello Doctor: Providing Remote Medical Assistance

Hello Doctor is a mobile healthcare app that was developed in South Africa. It is currently one of the most popular mobile healthcare apps on the market and is available in 10 different countries. The app allows patients to have healthcare that is accessible, affordable and personalized.

The app requires a subscription of $3 per month. It allows a subscriber to “carry a doctor in their pocket.” After filing a request, subscribers are connected with a doctor via text message or phone call. All requests are responded to within an hour. All doctors accessed through the application are registered medical professionals.

The app also has a symptom checker in which patients can note their concerns and are provided with a list of potential diagnoses. It is also updated daily with new content to provide fundamental healthcare advice to patients. This app is most beneficial to citizens who may not be able to easily travel to their nearest healthcare clinic.

Pelebox: Delivering Essential Medication

Communicable diseases such as HIV/AIDs remain a growing problem in sub-Saharan Africa. These chronic diseases must be treated with medication that is picked up from the clinic. However, the limited number of clinics, a shortage of healthcare professionals and a high patient volume create excessive wait times for patients.

Pelebox, a South African app, manages smart lockers that dispense refills of prescriptions to patients. Instead of waiting hours to be seen in the clinic, patients can retrieve their prescriptions within a matter of seconds. Pelebox’s goal is to reduce the burden on hospital staff so that they can focus their attention on patients in critical care.

Here is how the app works. The patient is enrolled in the clinic’s collection program, the prescription is issued and the medication is placed into the locker. Clients will receive a one-time-pin via text message from the system. Patients enter their phone number and PIN at the self-service interface and retrieve their prescriptions from the cubicle. The cubicle is accessible at any time. Through its innovative approach in delivering essential medication, Pelebox has reached approximately 3,000 patients. The company is also planning to set up an additional 30 units in the next five years to continue to expand its reach.

MedAfrica: An All-in-One Healthcare App

MedAfrica, a product of Shimba Mobile, is one of the most popular healthcare apps in sub-Saharan Africa. It was first launched in Kenya in November 2011. By March 2012, it had approximately 70,000 users and was released into several other countries.

The app was created to make healthcare more accessible, affordable and safer. The app is free to use and works on any operating system. It is an all-in-one healthcare app that has various features. It provides users with a directory of qualified doctors and hospitals that are nearby. It also has a symptom checker available to its users so they can decide whether they’d like to pursue further medical advice or treatment. After the diagnosis, they can easily connect with the proper specialist. Users also receive first-aid advice and health updates from local hospitals.

Advancements in Healthcare Through Apps

An underfunded infrastructure, shortage of medical professionals and high patient volumes make for a fragile healthcare system. The surge of healthcare apps in sub-Saharan Africa is a great start to combating these issues. The innovative technologies that are being released for consumer use may be the key to granting much-needed healthcare access to individuals who need it the most.

Jasmine Daniel
Photo: Flickr

Infant mortality rateEvery year newborn babies take their first breaths after their mothers give birth to them. Around the world, these same mothers hope that their children will grow into adulthood without any major health complications hindering their development. Unfortunately, millions of babies have died within their first few months of life due to health issues. Those born in areas with populations vulnerable to poverty experience more frequent cases of infections compared to others living in better environments. Therefore, organizations around the world have implemented ways to lower the infant mortality rate. It is important to understand what causes high infant mortality rate (IMR) and what groups across the globe have been doing to help lower the rate over the years.

Infectious Diseases

Babies born in areas of extreme poverty are at higher risk of contracting an infectious disease compared to those delivered in more sanitary locations. Every year, an estimate of about 2.6 million lose their lives within their first month. Moreover, roughly 15% of the total amount of deaths are attributed to severe infections contracted. Many of those cases involving infections could have easily been lowered if the necessary medicine was available to help the babies recover. However, the issue is that these treatments are too expensive for most families to purchase even if it would save their children.

Additionally, there are many different infections and diseases that newborns can contract due to unsanitary environments during delivery. Data taken from the 1990s to 2017 recorded which infections and disease were the leading causes of deaths among children. The top cause of death for children under 5 was lower respiratory infections. After lower respiratory infections, preterm birth complications, birth asphyxiation and trauma were the next biggest reasons. In addition, there are many more problems that contribute to the high IMR early in its collection of data. However, one good piece of information is that since the 1990s, the IMR has lowered significantly.

USAID to the Rescue

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has worked with several partners to produce cost-effective measures to help lower the IMR, especially for those in poverty. Expensive treatments have been one of the main reasons why children die at an early age —  a terrible outcome just because their parents could not afford the necessary treatments. In order to solve this problem, USAID has helped manufacture chlorhexidine to save more lives at a significantly cheaper rate. Chlorhexidine is an antiseptic product that comes in a liquid or gel form. It helps to treat infections for newborns, thereby lowering the infant mortality rate by lowering the cost of the product. This single intervention has helped lower the IMR in multiple countries.

Lower IMR Guidelines

The Guttmacher Institute released data explaining that practicing family planning can greatly reduce the IMR in countries with areas of poverty. They recommend that more contraceptives be made available to those who wish to use it. That will increase the likelihood of women giving birth to healthier children if they choose to have any. The institute argues that people living in areas of poverty lack access to such resources. It is that very lack of resources that increase the odds of children contracting infectious diseases when born.

While there are still many factors contributing to the infant mortality rate, there are also many out there who are working to lower that rate. Organizations like USAID and the Guttmacher Institute are trying to make sure that as many children reach adulthood as possible. It is through simple measures like lowering treatment costs and increasing access to medicines and family planning options that infant mortality can be reduced globally.

Donovan Baxter
Photo: Flickr

Child Poverty in RwandaJust over 20 years ago, the country of Rwanda suffered a devastating civil war and genocide, with more than 800,000 dead in 100 days. The children that suffered and survived the horrors are now adults, but what implications does this dark history have on Rwandan children today? Rwanda’s economic, political and social climates have entirely shifted since these tragic events. Of note, from 2001-2015, the country’s overall extreme poverty rate decreased by almost 24%. But more work is needed to help address the prevalence of poverty among the country’s youngest inhabitants. To that end, the national government has implemented the National Strategy for Transformation, aiming to halve the child poverty rate by 2030 from 39% to 19.5% or less. Here are five facts about child poverty in Rwanda.

5 Facts About Child Poverty in Rwanda

  1. Urban/Rural Divide. The provinces located in the West and South of Rwanda’s geographic landscape are significantly more rural, making child poverty disparities extremely visible compared to their urban counterparts. There are many different forms of poverty, but significant aspects affecting Rwanda’s rural youth include lack of sanitation and lack of health services. Currently, 20% more children under the age of 2 in rural areas experience greater than one form of poverty relative to those living in urban areas.
  2. Health. There have been significant health improvements for children in Rwanda, including the 70% reduction in child deaths over the last decade. However, health and healthcare are still lacking for Rwandan youth, as nearly 40% of children who die before the age of 5 are infants less than one month old. Though the rate of child deaths is alarming, Rwanda has significantly decreased its HIV/AIDS transmission rate between mother and child to 2% during the last three years.
  3. Education. Around 27% of secondary school-aged children did not attend in 2014 and more than half of Rwandan youth did not complete primary education in the same year.
  4. Child Rights. The median age in Rwanda is very young, standing at about 18.8 years old, due to the country’s genocide decades earlier. The young demographic has caused an increased awareness of child rights in the country, which has led to the passage of a bill that created a National Commission of Children. Children’s rights are now openly advocated for in the country as a result of the commission’s efforts, which address children’s rights to education, health and non-discriminatory practices.
  5. COVID-19. Rwanda experienced a period of economic growth and improvement prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. Fortunately, the World Bank Group provided funding of $14.25 million to help the country improve its COVID-19 response. Children in Rwanda have suffered by losing financial security and job access. Still, young farmers in the region have successfully adapted to the pandemic by adjusting the market for crops to save their lands and maintain a profit.

– Josie Collier
Photo: Wikimedia

Yazidi CommunitiesHaving been targeted by ISIL during its military campaign in 2014, the Yazidis have gained significant international attention over recent years. However, few knew much about the importance of Yazidi communities to the overall stability in Iraq before their genocide.

Who Are the Yazidis?

The Yazidis are a Kurdish-speaking minority located primarily in northern Iraq, where about 400,000 lived as of 2014. They have traditionally kept to themselves but experienced ethnic and religious persecution from both Saddam Hussein’s regime over the years as well as ISIL most recently. Such oppression crippled Yazidi communities as their members dealt with the economic fallout and social setbacks resulting from trauma. The novel coronavirus poses a new threat, and the consequences for peace and security in Iraq will be manifold — especially if the Yazidis are excluded from Iraq’s COVID-19 economic recovery strategy.

The COVID-19 Crisis

The spread of COVID-19 has hurt Iraq and its people on a grand scale, as it has in the rest of the world. Yet, despite a low number of cases in northern Iraq, Yazidi communities have been disproportionately affected by the virus due to safety measures taken by the Iraqi government. In Sinjar, where many Yazidis in Iraq live, most of the working population must travel for jobs located outside of the city or are farmers who rely on visiting other cities to sell their crops. However, this way of life is no longer possible under the imposed movement restrictions. Yazidis cannot leave Sinjar for employment, and farmers cannot travel to other cities. Therefore, many Yazidi communities have essentially lost all means of income.

The emergency measures have also adversely impacted the Yazidis on the healthcare front, as access to healthcare has been reduced. Those requiring medical attention can only receive it four hours away in Mosul, taking an ambulance so that they can cross various checkpoints throughout the province. Along with the long trip, some Yazidis do not seek treatment in Mosul because of the language barrier. These factors have further ostracized the Yazidis economically and socially, thus risking an increase in regional poverty.

The Resurgence of Poverty and of ISIL

Poverty’s resurgence in Yazidi communities because of the novel coronavirus has myriad implications for peace and security within the Middle East. In addition to trauma following the end of ISIL’s occupation of Yazidi land, the pandemic has created a mental health crisis within Yazidi communities. Those who previously received counseling at mental health facilities are no longer able to obtain that help due to COVID-19. Some experts are even predicting that 25% of Yazidis will require mental health care after the pandemic subsides.

Others have raised concerns surrounding the return of ISIL during this period of instability. Iraq’s government has acted on this issue militarily and can continue to fight ISIL’s revival by providing economic aid and building necessary healthcare infrastructure in Yazidi communities.

Humanitarian Solutions and NGOs

Ultimately, northern Iraq’s stability will not be achieved through military success alone. The long-term solution will be humanitarian. Following the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), such as developing better infrastructure, will lead to extraordinary progress on other pressing problems in Iraq, like reducing poverty and improving health.

Giving non-governmental organizations, like Yazda, a bigger role in community building is another way to strengthen Yazidi societies. Yazda focuses on helping Yazidis in various ways. It has already helped thousands obtain mobile medical services in addition to providing hundreds of mental health and socioeconomic assistance and supporting hundreds more in their pursuit of criminal justice.

For now, Baghdad is focused on reopening its urban and economic centers. However, including Yazidi communities in the reopening process during and after COVID-19, as well as supporting them to become more resilient in tumultuous conditions, will be crucial in preventing future conflicts and eliminating poverty in Iraq.

Alex Berman
Photo: Flickr


Globalization and industrialization have improved living conditions and increased economic prosperity in Morocco. The introduction of economic reforms in the early 1980s also stimulated growth in a variety of sectors. Yet, despite these efforts, poverty, illiteracy and unemployment rates in Morocco remain high. In 2018, Morocco ranked 121st out of 189 countries in the Human Development Index—a statistic composite index of life expectancy, education and per capita income indicators. A significant factor in Morocco’s low ranking is the country’s inaccessible and inadequate healthcare. Here are four things to know about healthcare in Morocco today.

4 Facts About Healthcare in Morocco

  1. Ongoing institutional reforms. Morocco is undergoing a variety of health system reforms, including those affecting hospitals and institutions. Currently, the North African country’s health system has public and private sectors. The private sector is further divided into not-for-profit and for-profit divisions, which is often quite costly. The public sector, though more affordable, is unable to provide the same standard of care as the private sector. Due to the ongoing reforms, the World Health Organization has outlined the management of public hospitals and a “lack of a policy to manage and develop human resources” to be some of the Moroccan health system’s main challenges.
  2. A lack of healthcare workers. Morocco is suffering from a lack of skilled healthcare professionals in both sectors of its healthcare system. In 2017, there was an average of 7.9 health workers per 10,000 people in 12 regions, according to the Moroccan Ministry of Health. This ratio falls far below the WHO’s standard of one physician per 650 people.
  3. Limited accessibility to healthcare. Coinciding with cost barriers and limited healthcare personnel, many Moroccans lack access to healthcare outside of urban centers. Rural and remote areas of Morocco are often underserved, and citizens have to travel long distances to receive primary care. To attract and retain healthcare workers in these underserved areas, the Moroccan Ministry of Health proposed legislation in 2015 for new graduates to work in underserved areas for two years.
  4. Gender inequality affecting women’s access to healthcare. Women’s health in Morocco is lower than men due to socioeconomic factors limiting women’s standard of living and income. According to the Mohammed Bin Rachid Al Maktoum Foundation, Morocco’s estimated 2008 illiteracy rate was 43%. In the same report, women’s illiteracy rate sat higher at 54.7%. Moreover, according to a 2009 report by the High Commission for Planning for Morocco, women with higher education diplomas were more vulnerable to unemployment. The report found that, in general, 27.5% of women are unemployed, while 50.1% of women with credentials are unemployed. Furthermore, Morocco has one of the highest infant mortality rates in the world, with an estimated 21.90 deaths per 1000 live births in 2017.

Improving the Moroccan health system is a slow process; however, with support from international public health organizations like WHO and healthcare professionals, healthcare in Morocco could advance significantly. Equal healthcare to women and Moroccans living in rural and remote areas will ensure a brighter, healthier future for Morocco and the world.

Alana Castle
Photo: Flickr

The Lake Clinic
The Lake Clinic Cambodia, a free healthcare service that started in 2007, has helped nine different villages and more than 13,000 people in the isolated Tonlé Sap region of Cambodia. The Tonlé Sap area, in Southeast Asia, stretches 160 miles and holds more than 1 million people- all living in floating villages. These villages contain some of the poorest people in Cambodia. These communities face disease, poverty, and drastic change in weather temperaments. A majority of the people rely on fishing with a daily income of $2.50 a day. The Lake Clinic works hard to combat the poverty and health struggles amongst these communities.

Why is this Clinic Valuable?

According to The Lake Clinic, “a lack of education combined with limited access to hygiene and sanitation contribute to a huge burden of preventable diseases.” More often than not, there are no teachers or health care facilities. Due to drastic weather changes that make it expensive and dangerous to travel to receive health care, many go without. Thus, the Lake Clinic stepped in. However, traveling throughout the villages is difficult and expensive due to high fuel costs and a lack of adequate resources. The Lake Clinic uses old boats and technology, including inefficient solar panels, to do their work.

Funding Found and Established

The Honnold Foundation, run by Alex Honnold (rock climber, environmentalist and advocate), offered to help The Lake Clinic in Cambodia. The generous support of The Honnold Foundation helps to fund new solar panels of The Lake Clinic’s boat fleets they use to travel within the communities. Now “with an upgraded solar and battery system,” they also have the availability of better technology, such as ultrasound and electron diagrams. The Lake Clinic can efficiently provide better healthcare services to even more communities around the Tonlé Sap Lake area.

How The Lake Clinic is Using its Resources

Thanks to the solar panels and battery, the Lake Clinic has been able to expand the work it does, offering support and educational lectures about dental care, pregnancy, water sanitation, floating gardens, mental health, pediatrics and teenage care. Annually, they offer over 1,800 vaccines, almost 500 eye checks, over 600 dental treatments and almost 517 antenatal treatments. The Clinic has also been able to expand their operation, offering five clinics and six boats to the Tonlé Sap Lake.

Healthcare and poverty are inextricably related. Poverty increases the likelihood of disease, as resources for hygiene and sanitation are not accessible. Poor health can be a fatal result of poverty. Those living in poverty and impoverished communities are far more likely to struggle with hygiene, disease and malnutrition. They are actively fighting to work with solar panels to bring healthcare to the Tonlé Sap communities. These clinics on boats are offering solutions and help to those living within the Tonlé Sap region. Solar panels are not just an energy source, but a tool saving lives.

Hannah Kaufman
Photo: CND Pixabay