Burkina Faso Health Issues

Burkina Faso is one of the poorest nations in the world. The UN estimates that over 40% of its population lives on less than $1.90 per day. Due to these economic conditions, essential services such as healthcare aren’t as readily accessible as they are in the US. Therefore, doctors on the ground aren’t able to treat common local health issues, such as facial tumors and Noma, as efficiently. Since 2014, USFC has worked in partnership with the African nation to remedy this problem. Let’s discuss our involvement in the country and how you can help.


How USFC Supports the Burkina Faso Health Care System

USFC overseas medical mission in Burkina Faso

Since 2014, USFC has been assisting the Burkina Faso health care system in various ways . Below, are a number of services we provide for the population:

Combatting Facial Tumors & Noma

A lack of capacity within the Burkina Faso health care system makes it difficult to treat common diseases. In addition, due to poverty, many children in Burkina Faso & sub-Saharan Africa are malnourished & lack access to clean drinking water. As a result, they’re susceptible to terrible facial tumors and Noma.

Noma is a bacterial pathogen that infects the mouth and leads to the development of tumors, ulcers, and degeneration of tissue and bone. Unfortunately, this disease has a high morbidity & mortality rate in excess of 90% if not treated correctly. Every year, 80,000 children die from Noma. Often, the only way to treat Noma is to perform extensive facial reconstruction surgery, for which most sub-Saharan African nations lack the resources to perform.

Performing Surgery Alongside Local Teams

In response, USFC sends in a team of trained surgeons, doctors, and nurses to Burkina Faso to aid local teams in the treatment of this disease. In addition, we make sure that children from neighboring countries who are suffering from Noma can be transferred to Burkina Faso and taken care of during these same missions. Since 2014, USFC has organized 12 reconstructive surgery missions in Burkina Faso operating on 786 patients. In addition, local medical professionals work in tandem with USFC doctors, gaining valuable skills and knowledge they can use to treat Noma.

Educating the Public

Often, we’ll find that a great way to support public health is through education. In Burkina Faso, we also promote community outreach efforts informing citizens about efforts they can make to combat Noma.

To combat major Burkina Faso health issues we must have a targeted approach that includes awareness, prevention and treatment. However, to understand how our work impacts the country, we need to understand the underlying problems.

Problems in Burkina Faso Health System

Due to Burkina Faso’s poverty crisis, the country lacks the medical infrastructure that’s often seen in more developed nations like the United States. To better understand Burkina Faso’s health issues it’s important to compare our healthcare systems.

A Lack of Qualified Healthcare Workers

According to the World Bank, there’s 1 physician for every 12,000 people in Burkina Faso. In addition, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that there are between 3-4 nurses & 2-3 midwives for every 10,000 people. Contrarily, the United States has about 30 physicians for every 12,000 people and 85 nurses & midwives for every 10,000 people.

Poverty has certainly had an effect on Burkina Faso’s education system. According to the World Atlas, less than 29% of adults in Burkina Faso can read. Furthermore, education can be expensive with most young adults entering the workforce at a younger age in order to support their family.

For those who do complete their studies, there isn’t a financial incentive for them to stay in the country. More developed countries can offer higher wages. So, doctors from sub-Saharan Africa will often move away and send wages back to their family in Burkina Faso.

There Aren’t Enough Facilities to Effectively Treat the Population

The WHO estimates that there are 1,721 medical facilities in Burkina Faso. For instance, these include hospitals, doctor’s offices, & small regional care centers. In comparison, the United States has 6,090 hospitals along with tens of thousands of other medical facilities. You’re more likely to have access to a hospital in the US than to find a single doctor in Burkina Faso.

© Pascal Deloche / GODONG
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