World Health Day

World Health Day

March 27, 2012
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On April 7, the United Nations will celebrate World Health Day, providing an opportunity for reflection on health and the progress that has been made to improve health care in Equatorial Guinea.

On April 7, the United Nations will celebrate World Health Day.

World Health Day provides an opportunity for countries to assess the state of their nation’s health and the progress they have made to improve health care services, access, and care. In Equatorial Guinea, improvements in health have been slow, with mixed results overall. Average life expectancy is 53, according to the World Health Organization. One in 8 children die before the age of five, a rate that represents an improvement for Equatorial Guinea, but one that is still above the African regional average. The maternal mortality rate in Equatorial Guinea has declined from 480 deaths per 100,000 births in 2000 to 280 deaths in 2008, and the country is on track to meet the Millennium Development Goal for maternal mortality.

While the government has made certain investments to improve the country’s health system, critics contend that the government should be doing more given the country’s substantial oil revenues.  Health expenditures as a percentage of total government expenditures averaged just 2.21% between 2004 and 2009, which lags far behind regional averages for Africa (8.6%) and the world (15.5%).

The African Development Bank (AfDB) recently released a new report on water and sanitation in sub-Saharan Africa that ranked Equatorial Guinea last among the surveyed states. The Water and Sanitation Index of Development Effectiveness (WIDE) compares the available resources for improving water and sanitation access in a country with its measured progress on water and sanitation targets. Despite being the third most endowed country in terms of development aid, GDP per capita and water resources, Equatorial Guinea ranks 38th out of 45 countries for access to improved water sources. Equatorial Guinea has the largest gap of all countries between the available resources for improving water and sanitation access and its progress in providing these basic needs. According to the AfDB, these results suggest that the government of Equatorial Guinea is not using its resources effectively.

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