Monday 21 August 2023

The Importance of Prioritizing Good Health and Well-Being in Africa

Photo by Marcelo Leal on Unsplash

By Atinuke Adeosun

One of the most pressing issues facing the African continent today is the critical lack of access to good health and overall well-being. The implications of this challenge are far-reaching and impact various aspects of African societies.

At Shades of Us Storytelling Initiative for African People, our commitment to advocating for good health and well-being in Africa is an integral part of our mission to empower Africans to lead full and dignified lives. We firmly believe that access to quality healthcare and the promotion of well-being are fundamental rights that every African should enjoy. Our dedication to these principles drives us to take proactive steps and engage in impactful projects that address pressing health issues on the continent.

The Significance of Good Health and Well-Being in Africa

It forms the cornerstone of individual and communal development. The vitality of a healthy populace translates into increased productivity, enabling individuals to make meaningful contributions to their families and communities. Secondly, robust health is an indispensable catalyst for economic growth. A workforce that is hale and hearty becomes more efficient, thereby fostering economic prosperity. Thirdly, good health and well-being are pivotal in maintaining social stability. Healthy individuals are less likely to engage in violence or criminal activities, thus fostering a safer environment for everyone.

Pressing Health Concerns in Africa

While Africa is faced with an array of health concerns, several issues stand out as particularly pressing:

1. Malaria

Malaria remains a formidable killer in Africa. The impact of malaria is alarmingly concentrated in Africa, carrying an unjustly high burden of the global malaria crisis. Distressingly, in 2021, this region was the epicenter of the problem, harboring a staggering 95% of all reported malaria cases and a heartbreaking 96% of all malaria-related deaths. What is perhaps most tragic is that children under the age of five constitute a substantial 80% of these fatalities within the region.


The scourge of HIV/AIDS continues to cast a shadow, with an estimated 380,000 [300,000−540,000] people dying in the African region from HIV-related causes in 2022. Though statistics indicate that mortality has dropped by almost 56% since 2010, this chronic illness still poses a severe threat to life and well-being.

3. Tuberculosis

Tuberculosis, a bacterial infection affecting the lungs and other organs. In Africa alone, a staggering 417,000 individuals succumbed to this disease in 2016, contributing to a global toll of 1.7 million lives lost. Disturbingly, over a quarter of all tuberculosis-related deaths worldwide occurred within Africa.

The impact of tuberculosis becomes even more stark when considering the concentration of cases. Seven countries shouldered a substantial burden, accounting for a remarkable 64% of all reported tuberculosis cases in 2016. Among these nations, Nigeria and South Africa stood prominently. Notably, Nigeria's tuberculosis death rate remained unsettlingly high, reaching a concerning level of 53 cases per 100,000 people in the year 2021.  The toll it takes on lives is alarming.

4. Maternal and Child Mortality

Tragic maternal and child mortality rates persist across Africa, as preventable diseases and complications during pregnancy and childbirth continue to claim the lives of many women and children. Almost 95% of all maternal deaths occurred in low and lower middle-income countries in 2020, and most could have been prevented.Sub-Saharan Africa alone accounted for around 70% of maternal deaths (202,000), while Southern Asia accounted for around 16% (47,000) in 2020.

5. Mental Health Challenges

Beyond the mentioned health concerns, mental health issues cast a shadow over the continent. Conditions like depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder are alarmingly common, yet mental health resources are often lacking.

Strategies for Enhancing Health and Well-Being in Africa

The path towards enhancing health and well-being in Africa necessitates concerted efforts and strategic interventions. Some of the most crucial steps include:

  1. Investing in Healthcare

African governments must prioritize substantial investments in healthcare infrastructure and services to ensure equitable access to quality care for all citizens.

  1. Health Education

Spreading awareness about the importance of good health and disseminating information on healthy practices is essential for fostering well-being across communities.

  1. Poverty Alleviation

Addressing poverty is pivotal in improving health outcomes. Governments must implement comprehensive measures to uplift impoverished populations, thereby positively impacting their health.

  1. Research Support

Sustained research efforts are imperative in developing new treatments and solutions for prevalent diseases in Africa.

A Holistic Approach to Health and Well-Being

It is crucial to remember that good health and well-being encompass more than just physical health: they encompass a sense of purpose, social connectedness, and the ability to lead meaningful lives. Addressing the health challenges in Africa will contribute to creating a continent where every individual can experience the benefits of sound health and well-being.

 Positive Steps in Nigeria and Mali

Nigeria and Mali illustrate the gravity of health challenges facing the continent. In Nigeria, malaria, HIV/AIDS, and tuberculosis are the leading causes of death. In Mali, malaria, diarrhea, and pneumonia top the list. However, some strides have been made to improve health services in these countries.

  • Nigeria achieved a monumental stride in 2023 with the passage of the National Health Insurance Act (NHIA). This groundbreaking legislation aims to provide universal health coverage for all Nigerians, a move set to drastically improve healthcare accessibility and quality.

  • Mali boasts a robust Community Health Worker (CHW) program. These dedicated individuals, armed with basic medical training, serve as linchpins in enhancing health and well-being within their communities. They offer preventive care, diagnose and treat common illnesses, and make referrals for specialized care when necessary.

Currently, Shades of Us is actively engaged in several projects aimed at addressing critical health concerns that disproportionately affect women and youths in Africa. We recognize the urgent need to tackle mental health challenges, period poverty, and other reproductive and sexual health issues that impact the well-being of women. By shedding light on these issues and fostering open discussions, we aim to break the stigma surrounding them and create an environment where individuals can access the support and care they deserve

The NHIA in Nigeria and the CHW program in Mali represent just a glimpse into the broader picture of African nations' commitment to promoting health and well-being. Through sustained investment in healthcare, comprehensive education initiatives, poverty alleviation measures, and dedicated research, African countries can lay the foundation for a healthier, more prosperous future for all citizens. By working collaboratively to address health challenges, Africa can chart a course toward holistic well-being and pave the way for brighter tomorrows.

No comments:

Post a Comment