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Hassan Hachem: Tunisia has the best network of doctors in Africa

Traditionally, France's partner countries around the Mediterranean and in Africa used to send their wealthiest nationals to seek treatment in France. Today, the situation is gradually changing as some countries acquire strong medical infrastructures. We heard about the quality of the Libyan health care system at the time of the fall of the Khaddafi regime. But we know less that Tunisia is mainly a center of medical competence. Coincidentally, the centers of medical expertise of these two countries have developed are the impetus of two dictators who have been overthrown.

It has taken these two countries thirty years to reach an internationally recognized level of expertise, ultimately attracting even more European clients, so that we now talk about medical tourism, as sector of activity in its own right. In Tunisia, the most well-known form of medical tourism is cosmetic surgery. Who would have thought twenty years ago, that French women would entrust the correction of their nose or their chest to a Tunisian surgeon, also operating in Tunis. Probably, not many people. And yet the reality is there. I am French-Lebanese and great lover of Africa, I can tell you that Africa would be wrong to make inferiority complexes. Tunisia should serve as an example to other countries that must first learn to rely on their own strength in medical matters. Everyone knows that there is a serious deficit in medical expertise in Africa, but few people are betting on the fact that it can be filled in a single generation. And yet, if the political will is there, it is possible. An evocative example: do you know that the grandmother of the president of the most powerful country in the world went to seek treatment in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea? The health situation is all the more crucial in that, in addition to the usual pathologies of Africa (AIDS, yellow fever, malaria), another danger lurks in Africa: cancer, which has unfortunately been accelerating for some time now. However, the lack of specialist in oncology is cruelly felt in Europe, especially in Africa. This established fact reflects a dramatic situation. Without being a specialist in the field, I think that this problem can be solved in the medium term only through North-South cooperation, but also South-South cooperation because Europe, even if it had the will, could not clear resources to meet the challenge. "

So, could Tunisia be at the forefront of this new South-South medical cooperation and export its doctors or be used as a platform for massive training of African doctors? This would be a good example that shows that South-South cooperation is not just a concept, but a real development strategy and that Africa can produce international fields in certain areas. Tunisia still needs to recover from the turbulence it is going through.

Figures on medicine in Tunisia

  • Number of doctors: 12,000
  • 1.4 doctors per 1000 inhabitants (compared to 0.1 per 1000 in Tunisia in 1970 and 3 per 1000 in France in 2011)
  • Number of dentists: 2400
  • 1 dentist for 5447 inhabitants
  • Number of pharmacists: 3050
  • 1 pharmacist for 5020 inhabitants
  • Number of paramedical staff
  • Health expenditure: 10.3% of the household budget
  • Infant mortality: 17 per 1000 (5 per 1000 in France)
  • Maternal mortality per 100,000 births: 56 (8 per 100,000 in France)
  • Under-5 mortality rate: 16 per 1000 (4 per 1000 in France)
  • Life expectancy: 74.8 years
  • 4 faculties of medicine
  • 1 faculty of dentistry
  • 1 faculty of pharmacy
  • 1 school of veterinary medicine
  • 4 graduate schools of health sciences and techniques
  • 20 public health professional schools
  • 549 million dinars invested by the public in health between 2006 and 2011
  • 200 million dinars invested by the private sector over the same period
  • Export of the pharmaceutical industry: 40 million dinars in 2009
  • Foreign visitors who received medical care: 102,000 in 2007 (in plastic surgery, orthopedics, ophthalmology, dental care and cardiovascular surgery)

Doctors per 1000 inhabitants in Africa

Country (1) . Year (2)
South Africa 0.80 2011 21.1%
Algeria 1.20 2007 44.3%
angola 0.1 2007 70.5%
Benign 0.06 2008 35.6%
botswana 0.4 2007 11.4%
Burkina Faso 0.06 2008 19.9%
Burundi 0.03 2004 37.2%
Cameroon 0.20 2007 45.6%
Central 0.05 2009 42.0%
Comoros 0.15 2004
Congo Brazzaville 0.20 2007 52.7%
Congo Kinshasa 0.10 2007 8.9%
Ivory Coast 0.14 2008 13.9%
Djibouti 0.2 2008 23.2%
Egypt 2.8 2008 4.7%
Eritrea 0.05 2004 36.2%
Ethiopia 0.02 2007 29.7%
Gabon 0.30 2007 15.0%
Gambia 0.10 2006 53.5%
Ghana 0.20 2007 55.9%
Guinea 0.10 2007 11.4%
Guinea-Bissau 0.10 2007 70.9%
Equatorial Guinea 0.30 2007 63.3%
Kenya 0.10 2007 50.8%
Lesotho 0.10 2006 33.3%
Liberia 0.01 2008 63.0%
Libya 1.90 2009 8.4%
Madagascar 0.50 2007 39.2%
Malawi 0.02 2008 59.0%
Mali 0.05 2008 22.9%
Morocco 0.60 2009 31.3%
Mauritania 0.10 2007 11.4%
Mozambique 0.02 2006 75.4%
Namibia 0.37 2007 45.0%
Niger 0.02 2008 8.7%
Nigeria 0.39 2008 13.6%
Uganda 0.10 2007 43.1%
Rwanda 0.02 2005 43.2%
Senegal 0.06 2008 51.4%
Sierra Leone 0.01 2008 42.4%
Somalia 0.03 2006 32.8%
Sudan 0.30 2007 13.2%
swaziland 0.20 2007 28.5%
Tanzania 0.01 2006 51.8%
Chad 0.04 2004 22.0%
Togo 0.01 2007 40.4%
Tunisia 1.19 2009 33.1%
Zambia 0.10 2007 56.9%
Zimbabwe 0.10 2007 51.1%

 

 

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