In a country like Mozambique people face numerous barriers when accessing the health services that they need. I recently visited Mozambique with colleagues from the Action for Global Health network. This was one of a series of ‘fact-finding missions’ to explore issues of health service provision, access and financing faced by low-income countries, and the role of European development assistance.
Mozambique is a country that – even if all of its international and national commitments to health spending are met – still needs an extra $35.2 USD per person per year to ensure that all of the population has access to basic healthcare. The burden of making up for this financing gap inevitably falls on the population through direct and indirect out-of-pocket payments for health services. This is an impossible situation for a country that is still ranked at 184 out of 187 nations on the UN’s Human Development Index, and that has millions of people living in poverty.
While in Mozambique, we made a film that looks at all of the barriers that people face in accessing healthcare. Urban and rural settings present different challenges, but for this film we looked at the rural setting of Tsangano in the province of Tete, a huge region in the centre of the country.
The examples of Tsangano and Tete clearly show that all parts of a health system need to come together in order for the system as a whole to function. Tete has two million inhabitants and just 63 doctors. That means that there is just one doctor for 30,000 people, and one nurse for 8,000 people. When we advocate for an end to out-of-pocket payments we must ensure that the ‘key ingredients’ which make user fee removal a success are also addressed – the financing for the system as a whole and ensuring increased investment in transport and infrastructure, particularly in rural areas, the health workforce, access to medicines and better information for the population to demand their right to health.
You can watch the film we made here to find out more about access to healthcare in Mozambique.
Julia Ravenscroft is a Project and Communications Officer at Action for Global Health
Action for Global Health is a network of 15 NGOs working in six European countries and at the EU level in Brussels.