The 5% Continent: Greed, Divides, Solidarity

The virtual series on “The 5% Continent: Greed, Divides, Solidarity which is on-going, is co-organised by HJI, PHM and African Alliance.

The “Divides” series held on 27th  October 2021 featured the President of Ghana Registered Nurses and Midwives Association, Mrs. Perpetual Ofori-Ampofo as a panelist.

The webinar threw light on the Covid-19 pandemic and it’s impact on the African continent. Some of the key issues arising from the series was that fact that private sector testing was expensive, putting pressure on public clinics to do free tests for the citizenry. Additionally, because not all public vaccination sites have equal access to vaccines, a lot of pressure is put on the few sites that have and increases the burden of work on the health workers.

High demand for health care services at public sector health facilities leading to task shifting affecting nurses and Community Health Workers (CHWs) and disruption of routine services.

The pressures of the pandemic on the already weak health systems have led to doctors and nurses leaving the public health system which is further constraining access to care.

Healthcare is generally more difficult to access in rural areas. Often rural communities rely on urban or peri-urban locations to access health care.

Different rural populations are positioned differently – e.g. farmworkers face specific challenges in accessing health care which might be different from mine workers. Challenges in accessing care in rural areas are enduring, yet remains low on the list of policy priorities.

The chunk of the health workforce globally are made up of women. Women are putting their lives on the line to care for Covid-19 patients as they struggle to care for their own families. Due to the sexual division of labour, women face the additional burden of care work in the home (in addition to their work as professional caregivers). This burden was exacerbated during the lockdown with household members staying home for long stretches of time.

CHWs also face dangerous working conditions because they work within private households, where they are at risk of  violence. Their scope of work is poorly defined and it keeps expanding depending on what more senior health workers need assistance with.

Stakeholders must work together to overcome the divides that exist within our health systems, communities and continent at large.


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