Philips report highlights unmet healthcare needs of African women and children

March 13, 2013

  • Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) are on the rise and are expected to become the most common cause of death in Africa by 2025
  • Findings reflect that the incidence of maternal and child mortality remains very high - progress on achieving Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) 4 & 5 by end-2015 is varied across the continent
  • Healthcare services are stretched and a lack of trained clinical resources is evident


Amsterdam, The Netherlands – Royal Philips Electronics (AEX: PHI, NYSE: PHG) today released its Fabric of Africa Trends Report on healthcare services across Africa, focusing specifically on Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs), maternal and child health and the strengthening of healthcare systems. The report reflects that mortality rates for women and children in Africa continue to rise and are amongst the highest in the world due to a lack of adequate healthcare services.


The report was commissioned as part of the Philips ‘Fabric of Africa’ campaign to provide a comprehensive and holistic overview of the current healthcare issues and trends experienced in Africa and focuses specifically on Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia, South Africa, and Egypt.


Highlights of the report, which incorporates the results of a range of recent studies, include:


The threat of NCDs is increasing rapidly and, if current trends continue, they are expected to become the most common cause of death in Africa

  • In 2010, NCDs were responsible for 40% of all deaths in the WHO African Region and the WHO projects that they will exceed communicable, maternal, perinatal, and nutritional diseases as the most common cause of death in Africa by 2025
  • Sub-Saharan Africa is expected to see a greater increase in NCD related deaths than anywhere else in the world over the next 10 years, with an expected increase in death rate of 27% compared to an increase of 17% globally
  • Cardiovascular disease is the second most common cause of death in Africa after infectious diseases, accounting for 11% of total deaths. The main causes are smoking, high blood pressure, decreased exercise and high cholesterol
  • Cervical cancer is the number one cancer affecting African women, in Nigeria it accounts for 15% of female cancer cases, compared to just 3.6% in developed countries. Breast cancer is the second most common, accounting for 16.8% of all female cancers


Women in Africa are at significant risk of premature death, with particularly high mortality rates recorded in pregnancy.

  • At 500 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births in 2010, Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) has the highest maternal mortality rate across the continent and is not considered by the UN to be on track to achieve its MDG 5 target.
  • 42% of women aged 20-60 years in Sub-Saharan Africa are at risk of premature death, seven times higher than their counterparts in affluent countries
  • In 2010, Sub-Saharan Africa accounted for more than half (56%) of the 287,000 women who died in pregnancy across the world. Maternal deaths have mainly been the result of issues such as severe bleeding (hemorrhage) (24%), infection (sepsis) (15%), unsafe abortion (13%), eclampsia (12%), and obstructed labor (8%)


Death rates amongst children in Africa are increasingly higher than global figures

  • 29% of global neonatal deaths occur in Africa and, according to the most recent assessments by the UNDP, although the regional child mortality rate for Africa is declining, it is doing so too slowly and the region is ‘off track’ for meeting MDG 4
  • Children in Sub-Saharan Africa are 17 times more likely to die than in developed regions, with 1-in-8 dying before their fifth birthday
  • The number of children under five who died in Northern Africa increased by 37% between 1990 and 2010, globally the figure rose by just 9%. The vast majority of deaths of children under five in Africa have been due to preventable causes: neonatal conditions (26%), acute respiratory infections (21%), malaria (18%), diarrheal diseases (16%), HIV/AIDS (6%) and measles (5%), all complicated by malnutrition


Healthcare systems are stretched and a lack of clinical resources is evident

  • A lack of adequate healthcare resources is a significant issue in Africa, leading to low levels of screening and diagnosis.
  • During the East, Central and Southern Africa Health Community’s Health Ministers’ Conference in 2012, Health Ministers from its 10 members states stated that less than half of the women who give birth in Africa receive care from skilled personnel
  • A shortage of healthcare workers is also evident across the continent, for example, in Kenya there are only 2 doctors to care for every 10,000 people, compared to 24 doctors for every 10,000 people in the USA


Speaking about the report, Peter van de Ven, General Manager, Philips Healthcare Africa, said: “This report highlights the huge amount of work to be done in improving access to healthcare across Africa, particularly for women. Through our Fabric of Africa campaign we again demonstrate our commitment to improving the healthcare infrastructure across the continent. We believe collaboration is the most effective way to create sustainable solutions. We have extensive experience in developing programs with governments, NGOs, and other organizations and this campaign is a call to action to address the key issues dominating our trends report.”

Discussing the issues highlighted in the report, Dr. Eric Silfen, Chief Medical Officer at Philips Healthcare said: “The report details a near ‘perfect storm’ of critical health concerns and health system inadequacies that must be addressed by the world community. African women deserve vastly improved access to the kind of quality healthcare that most of us take for granted.”



¹ United National Millennium Goal 5 target is to reduce maternal mortality rate by 75% from 1990 to 2015
² United National Millennium Goal 4 target is to reduce the mortality rate of children under five by two-thirds from 1990-2015

Fabric of Africa Trends Report

Infographic Philips Fabric of Africa

About the Philips Fabric of Africa Campaign

Fabric of Africa’ is a collaborative campaign to drive public-private partnerships and to improve healthcare access across the continent. The campaign focuses on women as the ‘fabric’ of Africa and uses this theme to highlight the importance of healthy women and the positive impact they have on the continent. The initiative reflects the post-2015 Millennium Development Goals (specifically goals 4 and 5), focusing on three key areas: maternal and child health, non-communicable diseases (specifically breast, cervical & cardiac health), infrastructure rehabilitation and clinical training.


During the course of the campaign, Philips aims to introduce innovative, cost-appropriate health technologies and eHealth solutions to the African market. Through local and international partnerships, the company will provide financing solutions, technical assistance and support to strengthen health systems, and a training framework to increase the output of trained and skilled healthcare professionals in the continent.


Find out more about the Philips Fabric of Africa campaign, please visit


For further information, please contact:

Radhika Choksey
Corporate Communications
Philips International B.V.
Tel: +31 62525 9000


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