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Africa must focus on Leadership, Gender Equality and governance to eliminate inadequacies in Public Health Systems – Dr. Robalo

Africa must focus on Leadership, Gender Equality and governance to eliminate inadequacies in Public Health Systems – Dr. Robalo

By: Rebecca Ekpe

Dr. Magda Robalo, President and Co-Founder of Institute for Global Health and Development (IGHD), in Guinea-Bissau has identified good governance and better leadership as entry points for propelling more investment into health systems that would remedy the disparities towards achieving equitable healthcare for all.

She was speaking in an exclusive interview with Rebecca Ekpe, Editor-in-Chief of www.gbcghana, the online news Portal of the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation.

Dr. Robalo is leading the Africa Centre for Disease Control’s annual International Conference on Public Health in Africa CPHIA 2023 track on; For Women by Women: Access to adequate healthcare for young girls and women in Africa.

The event scheduled for 27-30 November 2023 in Lusaka, Zambia, is expected to initiate a more forward-looking approach, ‘’highlighting how stakeholders across the Continent are breaking barriers and disrupting the status quo through cutting-edge science and programming’’, inspired by the theme “Breaking Barriers: Repositioning Africa in the global health architecture.”

Leadership and change:

‘’To bring balance, we need to bring diversity, we need to fill in the gap in terms of democratic governance for our systems to protect the vulnerable and those who need better health care’’, Dr. Robalo stated.

She is convinced that Africa’s health sector is suffering from lack of leadership, which is why there are, ‘’very poor health outcomes’’, and this ought to be reversed.

‘’The Continent is one that has the poorest health system, from maternal mortality to HIV and you name it. So, we really need sustainable leadership from those at the helm of institutions…….to turn the tide on ‘’the burden of disease’’, Dr.  Robalo noted.

Remuneration and decent jobs:

She advocates better remuneration and more meaningful wellbeing for women in the health ecosystem.

“We need to provide decent jobs for those who are in the health systems, and these are women”, Dr. Robalo noted, explaining that the women’s needs go beyond just the care and some kind of compensation.

‘’Women need health care, comprehensive health care’’… women are more than just in productive health’’, Dr. Robalo says the disparities have to be addressed in order to ‘’maximize the outcomes that comes with better diagnostics, better tools, and better treatment’’, because women also have healthcare needs for cancer, for diabetes,…and for other infectious diseases in order to improve their wellbeing.

Research and Data:

The CPHIA 2023 Speaker is optimistic that Africa’s problem needs African Solutions. Admittedly, but ‘’if we don’t address gender imbalance, if we don’t address governance, we may have medicines of this world, but Africa will remain the most vulnerable’’, she asserts.

Dr. Robalo is positive that tackling the issues around health finance through data is a move towards a more women-centered solution to addressing the disparities in healthcare delivery.

‘’We need to have Africans help public health leaders to drive science and data generation from the Continent so that we have a better understanding of our issues and articulate and then communicate that to our leaders’’.

The Conversation around data collection is therefore fundamental to the work of the Institute for Global Health and Development (IGHD). The Conference on Public Health in Africa 2023 later this year hopes to provide a ‘’unique African-led platform for leaders across the Continent to showcase new and exciting scientific discoveries while advancing programs and policies to create more resilient health systems’’.

Dr. Robalo hopes (IGHD) would be able to command information, command data, command communication on how to accelerate some form of accountability on providing resilient health systems through cross fertilization of ideas and research.

‘’The aim of the Institute for Global Health and Development is really to exercise the kind of pressure based on evidence, based on data produced and collected in Africa’’, according to CPHIA 2023.

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