Dr Álvaro Sobrinho’s charity, the Planet Earth Institute, recently hosted a Spotlight Seminar focusing on the future of public health care in Africa. The event brought together high-profile speakers from health care related fields, including research, publication and practise, each of whom shared their experience and expertise on the topic.
The speakers gave in depth analysis on the health care situation in Africa and each offered a set of solutions to commonly found problems. This format has been encouraged by Planet Earth Institute founder Dr Álvaro Sobrinho, who believes better policies, designed to promote the use of science, technology and innovation, will solve many of the problems Africa faces, not just in relation to health care.
Max Mallas Secrett, Somaliland Programme Manager at Kings College, used his talk to emphasis one problem in particular: the need for more post-graduate training opportunities for health care professionals. He pointed out the severe lack of health workers in Somaliland, a country that has only 200 doctors and a population of 4 million (to give some perspective on this figure its worth noting that the United States has just over 1 doctor per 1000 people). Post-graduate training and higher education training in general has been a focus of the Planet Earth Institute and Dr Álvaro Sobrinho. The Institute has launched several initiatives aimed at promoting higher education in Africa, including a PhD scholarship and a science enrollment programme for school children.
The Spotlight Seminars also raised the issue of financing and investment, an issue Dr Álvaro Sobrinho has often commented on in relation to African development. Samy Ahmar, Acting Head of Health for Save the Children called for “fair, progressive and transparent taxation” in order to raise the money needed to offer free at the point of care medical assistance in Africa. For his part, Dr Sobrinho has regularly called for increased private and public investment to solve Africa’s development challenges.