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East African activists are raising concerns over citizens increasingly seeking advanced medical treatment abroad

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louis Buyisiwe

Mar 15, 2024

Strengthening East African Public Services


Allana Kembabazi of the Initiative for Social and Economic Rights highlighted the tragic personal impact of inadequate healthcare infrastructure, sharing a poignant example of a loss within her family due to a lack of medical oxygen. Despite the Abuja Declaration's call for African nations to allocate 15% of their budgets to health, EAC countries have yet to meet this target. The petitioners pointed out that current health spending in Africa stands at a mere $188 per capita, starkly contrasted with $4,000 in high-income countries.
A nurse in an improved facility

Citizens of the East African Community (EAC) are increasingly seeking advanced medical treatment abroad, a trend that activists argue diverts resources vital for regional growth.


On March 12, the Africa Coalition on Public Service, representing over 500 Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), addressed the East Africa Legislative Assembly (EALA) in Nairobi, Kenya, spotlighting the urgent need for improved public services within EAC partner states.


The coalition's petition emphasized the dire state of health services, education, access to clean water, electricity, and social protection across the region. These deficiencies, they argue, exacerbate socio-economic inequalities and hinder progress towards the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals. The COVID-19 pandemic, rising living costs, and climate change crises further underscore the necessity of reinforcing public service delivery, particularly in healthcare, education, and social protection sectors.


Allana Kembabazi of the Initiative for Social and Economic Rights highlighted the tragic personal impact of inadequate healthcare infrastructure, sharing a poignant example of a loss within her family due to a lack of medical oxygen. Despite the Abuja Declaration's call for African nations to allocate 15% of their budgets to health, EAC countries have yet to meet this target. The petitioners pointed out that current health spending in Africa stands at a mere $188 per capita, starkly contrasted with $4,000 in high-income countries.


EALA MP Blacks Gerald Siranda echoed the sentiment, emphasizing the productivity loss in the region due to inadequate healthcare and education. The assembly's Speaker, Joseph Ntakirutimana, expressed solidarity with the petitioners' cause, committing to thorough analysis and deliberation on the petition.


In the context of healthcare, Rwanda serves as a beacon of progress within the EAC. The country has significantly ramped up its medical oxygen production and ventilator availability post-COVID-19, positioning itself as a medical hub in the region. This includes introducing kidney transplant services and advancements in heart surgery and cancer treatment, showcasing a proactive approach to healthcare readiness and accessibility.

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