Executives from Roche Diagnostics Africa have highlighted the urgent need for African countries to invest in modern diagnostic equipment to combat the growing burden of infectious and non-communicable diseases on the continent. At a briefing in Nairobi, Allan Pamba, Executive Vice President of Roche Diagnostics Africa, stressed that diagnostic gaps at public health facilities have led to a high rate of undetected killer ailments in the general population.
Upgrading equipment for screening malaria, HIV and AIDS, hepatitis, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and cancer will strengthen their treatment and care, averting a high fatality rate among patients. Pamba stated that although Africa is turning the corner on infectious disease, there is a need to invest in diagnostic infrastructure for screening emerging non-communicable diseases like cancer and chronic heart diseases. Reskilling of laboratory technologists in Africa and investing in digital tools will boost surveillance, detection, and treatment of vector-borne and lifestyle diseases, he added.
Taofik Oloruko-Oba, Acting Head of East and Anglophone West Africa, Roche Diagnostics Africa, stressed that a new vision for robust and well-functioning diagnostic infrastructure at Africa’s public health facilities was long overdue, to help cope with a growing burden of diseases linked to unhealthy lifestyles. He stated that the priority among policymakers should be ensuring that all citizens have access to timely, quality, and affordable diagnoses for killer diseases at local health facilities.
The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the urgency for African countries to invest in robust and home-grown diagnostic infrastructure as a means to avert mass fatalities, said Oloruko-Oba. He called for strategic partnerships between governments and industry to help bridge diagnostic gaps in Africa’s public healthcare facilities and enhance screening of disease-causing pathogens.
Jonathan Keytel, Director of Strategy and Healthcare Transformation at Roche Diagnostics Africa, said that African states should invest in a broad portfolio of diagnostic equipment to boost screening of diseases as part of the universal healthcare agenda. Keytel emphasized that governments should enact policies and legislation to guide quality diagnosis at every level of healthcare delivery on the continent to boost response to emerging diseases.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), non-communicable diseases account for 71% of all deaths globally, with Africa being the most affected region. This situation is worsened by limited access to quality healthcare and inadequate diagnostic infrastructure, which leads to late detection and inadequate treatment of diseases. The WHO estimates that over 50% of people living with non-communicable diseases in Africa die before their 70th birthday, making it crucial to invest in modern diagnostic equipment to detect and treat these diseases early.
In conclusion, investing in modern diagnostic equipment is crucial to tackling the growing burden of infectious and non-communicable diseases in Africa. Governments and industry stakeholders must work together to bridge the diagnostic gap in public healthcare facilities and enhance disease surveillance, detection, and treatment. This will ensure that all citizens have access to timely, quality, and affordable diagnoses for killer diseases, and help achieve universal healthcare coverage in Africa.