Health Life

Moving toward accessible healthcare for all in sub-Saharan Africa

Credit: CC0 Public Domain

Achieving universal access to healthcare is a key development priority and a major target of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal 3. The COVID-19 pandemic has only reinforced this urge. A rapid development and expansion of public, affordable healthcare infrastructure is particularly crucial in sub-Saharan Africa. In the region, communicable diseases are the first cause of death, infant mortality rates are above five percent, and lengthy journeys to healthcare facilities undermine the accessibility to basic healthcare for millions. At least one sixth of the population lives more than two hours away from a public hospital and one in eight people is no less than one hour away from the nearest health center.

The team of researchers from the RFF-CMCC European Institute on Economics and the Environment (EIEE), Catholic University of Milan, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei and Decatab recently published in PNASProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences a study that provides a comprehensive planning-oriented, inequality-focused analysis of different types of healthcare accessibility in sub-Saharan Africa based on a state-of-the-art georeferenced database of public .

Researchers, among them Soheil Shayegh, scientist at the RFF-CMCC European Institute on Economics and the Environment (EIEE), elaborate a strategy to efficiently abate the measured inequalities based on a geospatial optimisation algorithm which identifies the optimal location of future healthcare facilities of different tiers based on the projected distribution of the population of each country by 2030 in order to satisfy the conditions of SDG 3 targets.

“We were able to devise a spatial optimization framework to identify the optimal location and required bed capacity of public healthcare facilities in the region to ensure universal accessibility by 2030,” explains Giacomo Falchetta, Research Fellow at FEEM and at the Catholic University of Milan and lead author of the study. “The