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Burkina Faso's Healthcare System
Healthcare in Burkina Faso is not often in the eye of the media. War and violence have heavily affected the country and taken a toll on its healthcare system. Due to the escalation of violence and lack of financial means, roughly 1.5 million people have seen a significant reduction in their access to healthcare since 2019.

Funding and Outcomes

Violence is not the only problem that affects Burkina Faso’s healthcare system. Healthcare in Burkina Faso also suffers from a past and present lack of financial means to hire healthcare workers. The 5% government funding towards the healthcare system reflects this, which was $82 per person as of 2016. To compare, the United State’s government funding is at 17.7% and Canada’s is 11.6%.

The inability to hire experienced medical personnel has lead to less than one physician per 10,000 people, 3.57 nurses per 10,000 people and 2.39 midwives per 10,000.

This lack of experienced medical personnel strongly affects the outcomes of Burkina Faso’s healthcare system. For example, the minimum accessibility to midwives has led to a 21/1,000 stillbirth rate. Burkina Faso’s healthcare system also has a 49% chance of infant mortality.

Access to Resources

Though war and violence have put a strain on Burkina Faso’s healthcare system, there is also the issue of an inability for households to access resources. More than 45% of Burkina Faso’s population lives on less than $1.25 per day, and as a result, many are not able to afford and access proper food and water. The fact that 10.4% of children under 5 suffer from acute malnutrition illustrates this. Acute malnutrition is a form of undernutrition that can range in severities and cause growth stunting. This affects 30.2% of children in Burkina Faso.

Additionally, there are roughly 3 million people in Burkina Faso who cannot access improved water sources, which causes many digestive issues as well as dehydration. Another issue that Burkina Faso’s healthcare system has to bear is poor sanitation. Poor sanitation can lead to increased transmission of diseases. For example, only 22% of people have access to a toilet, which causes over 2,800 childhood deaths per year for children under 5.

Overall, the low individual income for the citizens of Burkina Faso acts as a barrier between them and healthcare. The fact that healthcare in Burkina Faso does not receive the necessary funding to hire experienced medical personnel, purchase quality products and afford and access technology negatively impacts the quality of care that each individual obtains.

Work to Improve Healthcare in Burkina Faso

Though Burkina Faso’s healthcare system has a long way to go, the United States and the rest of the world have been providing aid. For example, USAID is currently granting amazing services to Burkina Faso in the form of efforts to alleviate child hunger, provide malaria treatment and implement prevention programs targeting children under 5 and pregnant women. As one of the largest donors in the fight against malaria, the United States has contributed to a 62% reduction in mortality from it over the past five years.

In 2018, the World Bank approved an $80 million International Development Association grant and $20 million from the Global Financing Facility (GFF) in Support of Every Woman, Every Child. This money went toward supporting government efforts to increase accessibility and quality of health services in Burkina Faso.

Burkina Faso’s Efforts

Health minister Nicolas Meda has been working to achieve improvement to Burkina Faso’s healthcare system. In 2018, he welcomed the support of the Burkina Faso Reference Group. With the help of the group, the government identified four main goals it wished to achieve; expanding the current access to family planning, ensuring proper food and nutrition, eliminating infectious disease and revitalizing primary healthcare. Meda also wants to limit the household spending on healthcare to 20% instead of its 32% average which could increase households’ abilities to spend money on food, education, etc.

Global Context

Burkina Faso is a country that highlights the importance of foreign aid and healthcare protections. Without U.S foreign aid, the state of Burkina Faso’s healthcare system could be much worse than it is today. Through continued efforts, healthcare in Burkina Faso should continue to improve.

– Hope Arpa Chow
Photo: Pixabay

Investing_in_WomenThis past month a division of the United Nations held a meeting in Kenya in support of women and children. It was a gathering of the U.N.’s Global Financing Facility (GFF) to provide funds for the Every Woman Every Child initiative.

The Every Woman Every Child program was created by U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to address the issue of reproductive, maternal, newborn, child and adolescent health (RMNCAH) in the developing world. By investing in women and children, it aims to reduce the number of maternal deaths from childbirth and also the number of children that die from lack of medical attention.

The funds from the GFF came at a perfect time, as Kenya is trying to address these issues at home. The health of women and children are of particular importance to Kenya’s First Lady Margaret Kenyatta who was in attendance.

The First Lady addressed the Every Woman Every Child meeting to stress its importance for Kenya’s health and economy. “Investing in women and children is a smart foundation for sustainable development,” said Kenyatta. Improving the RMNCAH of nation helps lay a foundation for economic growth and development.

The funding for the Every Women Every Child program comes primarily from the GFF. The U.N. uses the GFF as its main financing platform for the program and uses a breakthrough financing model that unites nations, international donors, and the private sector. All of these parties contribute to help support advancements in the health of women and children.Investing_in_Women

The GFF was announced in September 2014 after exhaustive meetings with national governments and major institutions like the World Health Organization, the World Bank and UNICEF. Its mission is to close the $33 Billion financing gap between rich and poor nations for women and children’s health by 2030. This organization is unconventional in the sense that these multiple parties unite to invest in a nation’s domestic resources and its health infrastructure, rather than just giving aid.

This investment aid is essential for developing nations because it allows them to grow and sustain their infrastructures. The GFF pride themselves on smart financing that is based on evidence from the WHO to achieve results and sustainability. This developmental aid allows the healthcare infrastructure to become successful and grow larger which provides access to more people. It also ensures that the infrastructure grows at the same rate as the economy.

The GFF was primarily created to ensure the success of the U.N.’s Every Woman Every Child program. The UN believes this initiative can improve the lives of millions by investing in women and children.

It also believes it will determine whether its Millennium Development Goals and Sustainable Development Goals will succeed. First Lady Kenyatta echoed these sentiments when she said that the SDGs will only be achieved with the proper support from leaders.

She also noted that the health of women and children is important to almost every aspect of human development and progress, and it is the cornerstone of public health. Healthy women and children create a strong base for a healthy nation. This healthy nation can then focus on improving the economy which in turn stabilizes the politics and creates social harmony. The basis of a developed nation is the good health of its women and children.

With an initial budget of $40 Billion, the UN hopes the Every Woman Every Child program will help reduce poverty and improve the lives of millions.

Andrew Wildes

Sources: Every Woman Every Child, Global Financing Facility, KBC, World Bank 1, World Bank 2
Photo: UN Multimedia, Flickr

fifth_birthdayFor the first time ever, child mortality rates have plummeted below the 6 million mark, finally less than half of what they were in 1990 at 12.7 million.

While this number demonstrates a significant achievement towards global progress for the United Nations, this 53% decrease has not met the Millennium Development Goal of a two-thirds reduction set to occur between 1990-2015.

With 16,000 children under 5 still dying each day, UNICEF Deputy Executive Director Geeta Rao Gupta believes the challenges to saving these children must be met full-force.

“But the far too large number of children still dying from preventable causes before their fifth birthday – and indeed within their first month of life – should impel us to redouble our efforts to do what we know needs to be done. We cannot continue to fail them,” said Gupta in a World Health Organization (WHO) article.

Recognizing when children are most vulnerable is a necessary means of counteracting the cycle. This time of vulnerability has been determined to occur within the period at or around birth, with 45% of under-5 deaths happening within the neonatal period, which is the first 28 days of life.

Issues such as prematurity, pneumonia, complications during labor and delivery, diarrhea, sepsis and malaria are all leading causes of death for children under 5 years old, and it is here where improvements can begin.

In fact, nearly half of all under-5 deaths are associated with undernutrition. However, with the appropriate interventions, most of these occurrences are preventable.

For example, just by focusing on sub-Saharan regions which experience the highest levels of under-5 mortality rates in the world (with 1 in 12 children dying before their fifth birthday), these numbers can be vastly reduced.

Dr. Flavia Bustreo, Assistant Director-General at WHO, ensures we possess the knowledge to reduce newborn mortality.

“We know how to prevent unnecessary newborn mortality. Quality care around the time of childbirth including simple affordable steps like ensuring early skin-to-skin contact, exclusive breastfeeding and extra care for small and sick babies can save thousands of lives every year,” she said.

Although many countries have already made incredible progress in reducing their number of child mortality rates, further progress must be made in the hopes of making sure all mothers and their children are ensured proper care by 2030.

Fortunately, it is through initiatives like the Global Financing Facility, in Support of Every Woman Every Child, which focus on “smarter, scaled and sustainable financing” that the UN is able to support and enable countries with the resources they need to “deliver essential health services and accelerate reductions in child mortality.”

With these programs in place, there is great potential for many more fifth birthdays to come.

– Nikki Schaffer

Sources: Child Mortality World Health Organization
Photo: Flickr