Politics gets in the way of healthcare delivery in Gabon

It took half a day of waiting for mothers in Gabon to have their children vaccinated in what was a five-day campaign to prevent measles and other illnesses in the African country. The delay ended when Gabonese president Omar Bongo officially launched the inoculation program. This incident is just an example of how politics can impede health care delivery in Gabon.

Despite billions of dollars in oil revenues, over half of the 1.6 million people in Gabon never had vaccination. “Many people here are now in ill health. It is really a surprise. If they had invested more in health and education, it could be much better,” remarked World Health Organization official Andre Ndikuyeze.

According to Bongo, corruption is very much to blame for poor health services in Gabon. “I refuse to believe that the lack of medicines in our health centers, despite the large budgets allocated to them every year, is not due to embezzlement,” he said during a ceremony marking his 40th anniversary as the nation’s ruler.

International aid workers, however, ascribed the problem to the faulty national strategy, which enabled the construction of the state-of-the-art new military clinic in Libreville where Bongo owns a private suite. “They’ve neglected the basics, so now we are trying to convince the government to invest in health posts at a village and community level,” Ndikuyeze averred.

Source: Politics and graft undermine African health care (Reuters)

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