Skip to content

Burundi: A Case for Accessible and Affordable Healthcare in the African Continent

September 23, 2009

While I would rather stay away from the healthcare debate going on stateside, I want to address the idea of healthcare reform in small African countries. Women and children, whether in a country in Africa or at home in the U.S., are most affected by the inefficiencies, inadequacies, and lack of healthcare. I came across this article from the BBC about free healthcare in Burundi, one of the world’s poorest countries that is located south of Rwanda, east of the Democratic Republic of Congo, and west of Tanzania.

Clinics may be free, but they are also very popular

Clinics may be free, but they are also very popular

In 2006, new mothers and children under the age of five were granted free access to healthcare. Before then, “Some families had to sell their property to pay the medical bill for a caesarean section – which would typically cost about $300. And patients including women and children who were unable to pay were detained in hospitals until their bills were settled.” While the new system’s goal is to help women and children who previously could not access and/or pay for healthcare before, this system is by no means perfect.

In addition to the public healthcare system, there are private clinics in Burundi who are still charging exorbitant fees for their services. Access to healthcare has become more difficult; many people wait in long lines to see doctors. One doctor, Dr. Skola, who works for a public clinic in the paediatrics department, says that “she often sees more than 50 patients in one day.”

“We are only a couple of doctors as the rest have gone to the private sector to look for better pay,” Skola says, “I cannot hide it from you, these people lining up outside my room will one day find it closed, without a doctor inside.”

Since the program was implemented three years ago, the number of patients have increased by five. But the same amount of resources— including doctors, nurses, beds, medical equipment and supplies—remain the same. While the program has one foot forward, it is unable to work properly with one foot lagging behind, unable to provide these resources for the large number of patients.

Many people hope to change Burundi’s system and implement more free access to healthcare in other African countries. In 1987, the World Health Organization created the Bamako Initiative, to help re-shape and reform healthcare policy in Africa (the initiative has been updated since 1999). Many countries are also facing the HIV/AIDS epidemic, where many countries in Africa have high prevalence rates . This has become the center of the African healthcare debate. While HIV/AIDS is a very important issue, other issues of healthcare, such as maternity health and children’s health, must not be neglected.

Comments are closed.

  • Previous Series at GAB

  • TWITTER: What’s going on @GABblog

  • Top Posts

  • Recommended Reading

  • We participated in Blog for International Women’s Day 2010.

  • NetworkedBlogs

  • %d bloggers like this: