Co-creating Better Healthcare Systems

The COVID-19 pandemic’s true impact upon the African Union Member States cannot be assessed accurately. Public health surveillance systems and health informatics in Africa were not prepared for the pandemic. The African Union Centre for Disease Control (Africa CDC) has hinted that global health regulatory and policy making bodies do not have timely, relevant, and accurate data from the State authorities across the continent.

The main issue now facing all of Africa is how can countries ensure timely access to COVID-19 vaccines as well as successful vaccination programmes. Many African countries do not have the logistic capability and the financial ability to secure enough vaccine dosages for their populations. COVAX vaccines pillar of the ACT-Accelerator, convened by CEPI, GAVI and WHO, has stepped in but may encounter health systems that do not have enough function facilities, cold-chain arrangements, trained health professionals, and the concomitant injections needed.

Creating an enabling environment for patient engagement

African civil society engagement in national policy and decision-making has a chequered history. However, the pandemic has created a perfect condition for the African Union and its Members States to be introspective about health in all policies and about civil society engagement in health. Patients as main stakeholders of their health systems must advocate that the State create an enabling environment for them to co-create better healthcare systems that are patient centred, pandemic prepared and on target to achieve UHC 2030.

Holding our 1st African Patients Congress bringing together African patients, regulators, policy makers and other stakeholders in national unity and African solidarity will give us an opportunity to reflect upon how we can all build back better our African health systems and work towards UHC 2030 and health for all.  It will also be a moment for patients to engage in focused discussion on health systems strengthening and preparedness through patient led and co-created innovative solutions.