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Healthcare in Equatorial GuineaIn the small Central African nation of Equatorial Guinea, the healthcare system is lacking in many ways. According to a report by Human Rights Watch, “45 other countries in Equatorial Guinea’s per capita GDP range spent at least four times as much on health and education during the same period.” A study by the Pan African Medical Journal has reported a “lack of resources and trauma care facilities” and that  “training and informational programs for both healthcare workers and the general public may not be effectively transmitting information to the intended recipients.” Overall, it can be said that healthcare in Equatorial Guinea is in a dire state that certainly calls for assistance.

Things to Know About Healthcare in Equatorial Guinea

  1. Empty Promises. Following the discovery of oil in Equatorial Guinea in 1991, President Obiang promised investment in social services, primarily healthcare and education. Despite repeatedly saying he would prioritize those two services, financial allocation for funding has been disheartening. According to the World Bank, as of 2017, only 3.11% of the country’s GDP has been spent on healthcare, an increase since 2012, when it stood at 1.26%.
  2. Incorrect Priorities. Instead of allocating money towards improving its healthcare system, Equatorial Guinea has been investing in large infrastructure projects. In 2011, the country spent 82% of its total budget on such projects, a move that was heavily criticized by both the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.
  3. Treatable Diseases are Deadly. Lack of funding means healthcare in Equatorial Guinea lacks diagnostic tools, trained staff, laboratory supplies, vaccines, cheap medication and condoms. The lack of affordable medicine and resources results in patients being reluctant to seek care and also means the most common treatable diseases become the deadliest. According to the Pan African Medical Journal, diseases like malaria, typhoid, sexually transmitted diseases, diarrhea and respiratory illnesses are the most common diseases, but also have the highest rate of mortality.
  4. Underfunded Healthcare Sector. The lack of funding to the healthcare sector in Equatorial Guinea also acts as a deterrent for people to join the profession and causes many to leave, due to the lack of pay. Data indicates that Equatorial Guinea has only three doctors per 10,000 people. Furthermore, because patient payments are not enough to keep facilities running, many also leave due to the difficulties in their ability to provide care.
  5. Traditional and Modern Medicine Conflict. There is a conflict between traditional and modern medicine, which many healthcare practitioners consider a “negative healthcare outcome.” Indeed, the reluctance for many families to consult hospitals to receive care due to the high cost of medication may drive them to traditional medicine methods instead. Though this conflict has been noted before, not many steps have been taken to help mitigate the gap.

Despite the dire state of healthcare in Equatorial Guinea, research does not indicate that the country is receiving much help from aid organizations or other countries to improve the situation. This conclusion indicates a desperate need for aid to better the country’s healthcare system. With help, healthcare in Equatorial Guinea can be drastically improved.

Mathilde Venet
Photo: Flickr

Poverty in Equatorial Guinea
Mariano Ebana Edu’s hit single, “Carta Al Presidente,” made big waves in 2013 for speaking up about poverty in Equatorial Guinea. In this passionate rap song, Edu, who performs under the name Negro Bey, criticizes President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo’s oppressive government for keeping its citizens in poverty. Although the oil-rich country has experienced rapid economic growth since the 1990s, rampant corruption and wealth inequality prevent large populations from reaping the benefits. Here is some information about poverty in Equatorial Guinea.

Wealth Inequality

The Republic of Equatorial Guinea is a small country with a population of approximately 1.3 million located on the west coast of Central Africa. Although the country has become one of sub-Saharan Africa’s top five oil producers, poverty in Equatorial Guinea remains a major issue. Oil revenues have funded the luxurious lifestyle of President Obiang and his political elite while large populations still lack access to clean water and healthcare.

Human Development Report

Information about poverty in Equatorial Guinea can be difficult to find since Obiang’s government strictly controls the country’s media. In 2019, the United Nations Development Programme ranked Equatorial Guinea 144 out of 189 countries in its Human Development Report, combining life expectancy, education and per-capita income data. According to the U.N., more than half of Equatorial Guinea’s population still lacks access to clean water. UNICEF has found that 26% of the population uses unimproved drinking water sources, and only 66% have access to basic sanitation services.

Healthcare

Healthcare remains a major issue for people living in poverty in Equatorial Guinea, where diseases like malaria and HIV/AIDS continue to be a threat. UNICEF estimates that in 2019, there were approximately 900 new cases of HIV in people ages 0-19 and 1,200 new cases in adolescents and young adults ages 15-24. Insecticide-treated nets (ITNs) are protective gear to help prevent the spread of malaria, but only 38% of households in Equatorial Guinea have at least one ITN. Meanwhile, 20% of children born in Equatorial Guinea die before the age of 5.

Aid and Progress

Enterprise for Development (EfD) is a U.K.-based organization working to eliminate poverty in Equatorial Guinea. EfD provides grants to poor farmers to help improve irrigation and ultimately create sustainable local enterprises with pro-poor benefits. 

The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS is a leader in global coordination and advocacy to help end AIDS as a public health threat. Data from UNAIDS shows that in 2019, 23,000 people living with HIV in Equatorial Guinea had access to antiretroviral therapy (ART), and hundreds of expecting parents received prevention of mother-to-child transmission services (PMTCT).

In 2019, the International Monetary Fund approved a $280 million bailout to Equatorial Guinea. However, after credible accusations of high-level corruption President Obiang and his senior officials must reveal their private assets before the country can receive the full amount. Equatorial Guinea must also join the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative in an effort to fight corruption in its oil and gas industries. These reforms can help ensure that foreign aid goes directly to improving the lives of Equatorial Guinea’s poor.

– Stephanie Williams
Photo: Flickr