Despite high mobile phone penetration in Kenya and the proliferation of eHealth programs, healthcare remains largely inaccessible outside major cities. Research funded by IDRC is now feeding into national policies to ensure greater health equity.
Mobile phones could boost the health of Ethiopia’s underserved rural population. They also promise to enhance the skills and reputation of health extension workers, who are linchpins of the country’s health system.
In 2010, some 40,000 Nigerian women died in childbirth — 14% of the world’s total maternal deaths. In many rural areas, women and girls marry young and put in long hours of gruelling domestic labour — grinding meal, fetching firewood and water, tilling and selling crops — well into late stages of pregnancy.
Despite recent progress, as a region, sub-Saharan Africa has the highest rates of maternal, infant, and child mortality in the world. From 2009 to 2012, researchers led by Niger’s Laboratoire d'études et de recherches sur les dynamiques sociales et le développement local (LASDEL) analyzed government efforts in Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger to increase access to health care by removing user fees.
The voices and experience of developing country researchers are too often missing when international donors and decision-makers gather to address global health issues. Strengthening capacity and creating space for Southern expertise is one of IDRC’s most important contributions.
In the 1980s, with advice from international organizations, most African countries adopted direct payment for health services as the primary means to finance their health systems. Patients had to pay for health services out-of-pocket, severely hindering access to services for the most vulnerable. New recommendations in the 2000s called for African countries to offer subsidies or abolish payments for certain health services and groups. Until now, the impacts of these reforms in francophone West Africa have not been documented.