Healthcare and business in Africa

Africa is fast becoming a continent the rest of the world takes seriously. Producing world-class products and creating leading businesses, the continent is breaking the stereotype of being behind the times. Unfortunately, though progress is being made, that doesn’t mean some long-standing problems have been overcome. Many of these are problems affecting African business, too, since what happens to the continents’ citizens will affect companies.

Healthcare in Africa

South Africa might be the country where the first heart and first penis transplant took place, but that doesn’t mean everything’s okay. Like many African countries, the lack of infrastructure has led to numerous problems with its health system. Though there are plans in place for a national health insurance, the reality has not seen the light of day yet. Many are still not covered or can’t afford healthcare.

This is reflected in other African countries. As the World Health Organisation noted:

“Even in the absence of a major health crisis, many African countries struggle to deliver quality and affordable health services. For coverage of several basic health services – including family planning, immunization and improved sanitation – sub-Saharan Africa lags well behind the rest of the world.”

Despite the region accounting for approximately 25 percent of the world’s disease burden, we only have three percent of its doctors. Households throughout the continent also put themselves in debt trying to pay for or pay back healthcare costs.

Business intervention

Of course, increasing wages and salaries is one way to help people with healthcare. That’s not a viable option but can be considered as priority for managers wanting to maintain their strong workforce.

Businesses can help by examining the variety of medical insurance plans for individuals. This can either be part of an overall healthcare plan for the business or information can be provided to employees, alongside financial assistance to help them balance their budgets. This should be of particular concern if the employee is the main breadwinner, with children, since it is not only their own healthcare they need to concern themselves with. Unfortunately, if we’re a business we’re not only shouldering the problems of the one worker but their entire family, too.

More can be done to get governments to care. Businesses sometimes have more power than individuals to bring to leaders’ attention the situation in the country. Here, this could mean businesses becoming active in particular causes, lending resources to help bring about change.

(Picture credit: Frontier Official / Flickr)