Health Care in ComorosAs one of the poorest countries in the world, Comoros experiences numerous challenges. This is exacerbated by the country’s history of political instability and a devastating socioeconomic climate. Poor health care has both a dramatic effect on the lifespan of Comorians and on their quality of life.

Political Instability and Health Care

The nation has struggled with political unrest since its independence from France on July 6, 1975. Because of recent laws, the average duration of each government has not been longer than six months. These political fluctuations have caused a major toll on health care in Comoros. 

During these 41 years of political unrest, Comoros experienced 21 coups, causing a massive health care crisis among the islands. These turbulent years made it harder to implement institutions that provide medical care to all people no matter their socio-economic status. 

Health Care Workers

Often, very skilled medical workers choose to migrate out of Comoros. Additionally, ever since its independence, the islands have struggled to distribute health care workers evenly across the country. This demands imperative action in Comoros to increase health care workers and organize better health care distribution processes so all people in Comoros can access safe and effective health care.

Health Issues

A weak health care system leads to illnesses and disorders that go undiagnosed or untreated. In Comoros, the most common health issues include malaria, diarrhea, diabetes, intestinal parasites, respiratory infections and HIV/AIDS, which is less common but equally fatal. These diseases and illnesses left untreated cause significant deaths, most commonly in children and pregnant women. 

The revival of old diseases like cholera, chikungunya, malaria and HIV/AIDS points to the political turmoil playing a big role in the poor health services in Comoros. It isn’t just diseases that cause health issues in Comorians, however. Over the years, children have continued to die from chronic malnutrition, illustrating the adverse state of poverty the nation is in. 

What is the Problem?

The years of political instability in Comoros have had drastic effects on poverty and health care. As there is no national health insurance in Comoros, the average Comorian will pay 45% of the cost of a health visit out of pocket. This elite group highlights the economic disparities people face in Comoros. Due to the national poverty levels, 60% of health workers in public facilities are unpaid volunteers.

Help in Times of Hardship

Because of the urgent need for a change of health care in Comoros, in 2019, the World Bank approved the Comprehensive Approach to Health System Strengthening Project (COMPASS). It has invested $30 million into the improvement of primary health care in Comoros. Its goal is to prioritize delivering aid to women and children under the age of five as well as to the general population.

The World Bank continues to reinforce better health care in Comoros by providing more accessible and affordable services to the general public. The organization creates better health institutions, trains more workers and provides rehabilitation services to patients. The World Bank also has also given Comoros a large quantity of equipment and vehicles that help medical workers on the islands. The project hopes to deliver quality and time-efficient care to patients with disease and illness outbreaks in Comoros. 

Comoros Takes Action

In recent years, Comoros has fought to control malaria, and the nation is close to succeeding, currently in the pre-elimination phase. Furthermore, the Comoros government has worked to reduce health care costs by more than 40% since 2010. 

Moreover, the islands have adopted a new national health policy for the period of 2015-2024. This initiative aims to end the cycle of poverty keeping people from accessing the health care that they need in Comoros. By creating more accessible health care the country can help combat the rising amount of devastating diseases that create a huge toll on the population. 

– Marina Blatt
Photo: Flickr