The private health sector plays a key role in the African healthcare provision as in several countries more than 50% of the health services are delivered by the private sector. The private sector consists of care providers commercial/ private hospitals, non-profit organizations, social enterprises, Faith Based Organizations (FBOs) and an informal health sector of traditional healers, midwives and individual medicine sellers who are essential in providing care as well as the payors in the form of health insurance companies plus the supply chain companies that are integral to maintain the care continuum. Together they cover all the elements along the health value chain; healthcare provision, manufacturing, financing, distribution and retail. The private sector fills a large gap in the healthcare delivery, thereby catering for a large proportion of medical needs not only for the urban upper class who are seeking higher quality services, but also for the rural populations that are unable to access government facilities. It is critical, now more than ever, for the public sector to harness on the entrepreneurial talents of the private sector to improve access to healthcare and long-term, sustainable increases in funding and health infrastructure. In turn, collaborating with the public sector can help the private sector in capitalizing on funds and obtaining support from local finance institutions.
Financing of Healthcare his undoubtedly the most complex issue that plagues every actor in the healthcare ecosystem; be it the payor, provider or the customer. To ease the burden on the customer, Universal Health Coverage (UHC) has been advocated as the most suitable solution for delivery of quality healthcare services that are affordable to the customer. With the setting of 2015 as the target year of reaching the SDGs, Africa lags in reaching many goals due to a lack of government spending on health. Less than 10 countries in Africa are budgeting at least 15% of their national budget for health as per the Abuja Declaration. Achieving UHC, provision of cashless system of access to healthcare in acute and chronic care settings is definitely the way forward. Each country can customise the framework of achieving UHC through appropriate optimisation of regional cultural and traditional practises incorporating the health seeking behavior of the population and the existing/ planned healthcare delivery systems. Although this is a complex process that involves joint decision-making among key stakeholders including governments, development partners and the private sector, it is nevertheless an important step to support policies that promote equity, efficiency and effectiveness within the health system. Through a unified approach, UHC can help to significantly expand the number of people covered by risk pooling arrangements, with substantial benefits to healthcare, thereby optimizing resource use and maximizing benefits to all stakeholders.
African Healthcare sector is plagued by extreme shortage of skilled manpower across the continent. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the health personnel to population ratio in Africa has been astoundingly low throughout the years. The health workforce is at the core of all health systems as they facilitate the implementation of healthcare services. The inadequacy in the number of quality trained health workers has led to serious impediments in healthcare delivery and outcomes on the continent. There is a crying need to resolve this crisis through various innovations and resource sharing policies within the continent to enable the other building blocks in the healthcare ecosystem to deliver their goals and to ultimately realise the dream of achieving SDGs in a defined time frame.
As reforms continue to force healthcare organizations and business to find new ways to curb costs and increase effectiveness, many forget about the process and supplies needed to keep the business moving. Increasing the understanding of managing the supply and demand side in the medical supply chain will increase cost and time efficiency, thereby enabling cost effective delivery of patient care. The supply chain involving medications and essential supplies to healthcare providers can be very complex owing to challenges of availability, lead times , storage criteria and emergency procurement needs. Ongoing macroeconomic and regulatory events are constantly changing the shape of the competitive and operational environment in which supply chain managers make their strategic and tactical decisions. Optimisation of supply chain can be one of the most significant items to reduce waste and overall costs of healthcare delivery to the end user.
Developments in healthcare have enabled the successful treatment and management of many diseases that were often fatal just a generation ago. Nevertheless, African healthcare systems still far short of its potential and faces costs that are not sustainable due to the high expenses. Technological innovations, both small and large, could ensure that healthcare delivery becomes faster, smarter and more affordable and thereby more satisfying to the patients. The health industry opening doors to embrace technological healthcare innovations, but this process should be fast-tracked to leverage on the current trends and developments in the technology space that can improve health outcomes on the continent. Digital technologies have the potential to revolutionalise delivery of acute care, management of chronic care and impact community and population health for communicable and non communicable disease burden of the country at a much reduced cost.