Africa

Africa’s Healthcare Needs Resuscitation

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South Sudan, a nation of 11 million, has more vice presidents (five) than ventilators (four). The Central African Republic has three ventilators for its five million people. In Liberia, which is similar in size, there are six working machines — and one of them sits behind the gates of the United States Embassy. In all, fewer than 2,000 working ventilators have to serve hundreds of millions of people in public hospitals across 41 African countries, the World Health Organization says, compared with more than 170,000 in the United States. Ten countries in Africa have none at all. Of course, there are big disparities among Africa’s 55 countries, too. Ventilators are much more plentiful in South Africa, which has a big economy and a relatively strong health infrastructure, than in Burkina Faso, one of the earliest West African countries to be hit by the coronavirus. At last count, it had 11 ventilators for 20 million people. And not all African countries want it known how few ventilators they have. For some, this information could have “a lot of political implications,” including criticism of their management of health systems.

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