Why African Leaders Should Pay More Attention to Healthcare and Education

When it comes to education and healthcare, Africa is one continent seriously lagging. As an illustration, one in every three African children (between ages 6 and 17) do not attend school. Also, according to a World Health Organization report, African countries like Nigeria where government investment in healthcare is low, families have to spend about 40% of their income healthcare. This has bad consequences for poverty, death rate, and human development.

Take for example: when a poor family arrives a hospital with a dying child or a woman struggling to give birth, the hospital demands fees before care is given - this can wipe out all their money the family has, forcing them to borrow and pushing them deeper into poverty. Many times, the family watch their child or mother die while trying to raise money. But in developed countries, the hospital would treat first knowing the government would cater for it and the family would pay later through health insurance.

While these problems with education and healthcare in Africa are well-known, it appears governments are not doing enough to improve things. In Nigeria for example, the total allocation for both Education and Health in the proposed national budget for 2020 is 4.39%, while the budget for Defense alone is 4.67% of the proposed capital expenditure. This speaks volume of where the priorities lie.

For a continent that still has a lot of catching up to do when it comes to quality basic education and healthcare delivery among other issues, perhaps stockpiling guns and fighter jets should be the least of her worries. There is a grueling need for large scale human-capital development in Africa, and this is no news, but only a handful of people understand why.

The healthcare sector in many parts of Africa is bad enough that at the slightest discomfort, the privileged ones amongst us fly to the likes of India, Germany or UK. The point is, so long as it is a non-African country, "they will be fine." Even our homegrown doctors have begun to move overseas. If this continues, we are looking at an obvious rise in death rates and fall in average life expectancies, with the masses bearing the brunt of it. This is part of the many reasons people often say that this generation have failed us. But our leaders can still help rewrite part of this script by investing more in healthcare.

Another sector that demands urgent attention is education. For one, the cost of enrolling wards in schools today is a far cry from what it used to be. Whereas basic income is hardly enough to cater for feeding and rent only. As such, it is no rocket science that the earlier mentioned category of children cannot afford to go to school. The next meal is not even guaranteed. And yet, education plays a vital role in human-capital development, especially as Africa has a massive growing youth population.


Still craving? You can find out more about this topic here: PWC, UNESCO, and BudgiT

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