Background: The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has disrupted lives across all countries and communities. It significantly reduced the global economic output and dealt health systems across the world a serious blow. There is growing evidence showing the progression of the COVID-19 pandemic and the impact it has on health systems, which should help to draw lessons for further consolidating and realizing universal health coverage (UHC) in all countries, complemented by more substantial government commitment and good governance, and continued full implementation of crucial policies and plans to avert COVID-19 and similar pandemic threats in the future. Therefore, the objective of the study was to assess the impact of good governance, economic growth and UHC on the COVID-19 infection rate and case fatality rate (CFR) among African countries.
Methods: We employed an analytical ecological study design to assess the association between COVID-19 CFR and infection rate as dependent variables, and governance, economic development and UHC as independent variables. We extracted data from publicly available databases (i.e., Worldometer, Worldwide Governance Indicators, Our World in Data and WHO Global Health Observatory Repository). We employed a multivariable linear regression model to examine the association between the dependent variables and the set of explanatory variables. STATA version 14 software was used for data analysis.
Results: All 54 African countries were covered by this study. The median observed COVID-19 CFR and infection rate were 1.65% and 233.46%, respectively. Results of multiple regression analysis for predicting COVID-19 infection rate indicated that COVID-19 government response stringency index (β = 0.038; 95% CI 0.001, 0.076; P = 0.046), per capita gross domestic product (GDP) (β = 0.514; 95% CI 0.158, 0.87; P = 0.006) and infectious disease components of UHC (β = 0.025; 95% CI 0.005, 0.045; P = 0.016) were associated with COVID-19 infection rates, while noncommunicable disease components of UHC (β = -0.064; 95% CI -0.114; -0.015; P = 0.012), prevalence of obesity among adults (β = 0.112; 95% CI 0.044; 0.18; P = 0.002) and per capita GDP (β = -0.918; 95% CI -1.583; -0.254; P = 0.008) were associated with COVID-19 CFR.
Conclusions: The findings indicate that good governance practices, favourable economic indicators and UHC have a bearing on COVID-19 infection rate and CFR. Effective health system response through a primary healthcare approach and progressively taking measures to grow their economy and increase funding to the health sector to mitigate the risk of similar future pandemics would require African countries to move towards UHC, improve governance practices and ensure economic growth in order to reduce the impact of pandemics on populations.
Keywords: Africa; COVID-19; Economic growth; Fatality rates; Governance; Infection rates; Universal health coverage.
© 2022. The Author(s).