The educational system in Equatorial Guinea has undergone many changes and overcome significant challenges over the years, and today the government is making strides in the promotion of education and professional training at all levels and for all age groups. From the promotion of compulsory education to advanced studies, the Government of Equatorial Guinea is making education a top priority as part of its Horizon 2020 development plan.
Education in Equatorial Guinea is free and compulsory until the age of 14. Primary education is for five years followed by four years of secondary in the first stage and three subsequent years of secondary education in the second stage. The National University of Equatorial Guinea which was founded in 1995, is the primary institute of higher learning. The main campus is located in Malabo. The school of Medicine is located in Bata.
According to the publication of the UNESCO Institute of Statistics, in 2011 Equatorial Guinea obtained the highest literacy rate of Sub-Saharan Africa with a percentage of 94.2%, followed by South Africa with 93% and Seychelles with 91.8%1
School enrolment in primary education reaches 87% and 58% of all children complete primary education. The student to teacher ratio in secondary education is 23:1.
In the field of health, and according to the report 2012 Africa Health Financing Scorecard of the World Health Organization (WHO), Equatorial Guinea invested $612 per capita in health care, the highest per capita investment in the African continent followed by Botswana ($442) and South Africa ($228).2
Total expenditure on health as a percentage of GDP reached 4% in 2011.3 Life expectancy has improved in the past 10 years from 47 years in 2000 to 52 years in 2012, but it is in children’s and women’s health where Equatorial Guinea has improved most: the country has significantly reduced maternal mortality throughout the entire country, and is on track to achieve Millennium Development Goal number 5 along with seven other African countries, according to the World Health Organisation.4
The Health System in Equatorial Guinea
Equatorial Guinea has made significant health progress in the period covered by the previous cooperation strategy with the WHO. A social development fund has been established, a number of hospitals and health care centres have been constructed and renovated, onchocerciasis vectors have been progressively eliminated and the number of cases reduced on Bioko Island. The number of cases of leprosy, Buruli ulcer and trypanosomiasis has also been reduced in the cities of Luba and Mbini. Malaria prevalence in children ages 2 to 14 was significantly reduced in the period from 2004 and 2007, particularly on Bioko Island.
Equatorial Guinea is committed to reforming its health system and enhancing the operationalisation of health districts, for which it has adopted a series of measures to promote the health sector. As a result, the health of the population has tangibly improved in the country and the remaining challenges have been incorporated into the Horizon 2020 strategy.
To respond to the health needs of the population, the Government committed itself to health sector reform back in 1996 and elaborated successive health development action plans covering the periods from 1996-2000 and from 2002-2006. The challenge has been to monitor the implementation of these action plans. The socio-economic development programme Horizon 2020 (established in 2007) marked a significant step towards defining national health objectives. The Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, in conjunction with its technical, financial and social partners, has devised a new health development plan for the period 2014-2020 which will ensure the attainment of the health objectives enshrined in the Horizon 2020 strategy.
International Cooperation / Aid for Health
Equatorial Guinea has very few real development partners and is entirely responsible for its own development. It does not depend on external health funding and public funds account for 95% of total expenditure on health.
The Ministry of Health and Social Welfare met with the United Nations Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF) and adopted a cooperation strategy in 2007 based on Government priorities, transparency, mutual trust, enhanced coordination and assessment of cooperation to ensure a real impact on the people. The following is a summary of those commitments.
Strategic Coordination Agenda between Equatorial Guinea and the World Health Organisation (2008-2015)
STRATEGIC PRIORITY 1
Strengthen institutional capacity of the Ministry of Health
- Help to develop still lacking policies and strategies
- Help to develop tools to strengthen cooperation between Government, private sector, civil society and local communities
- Help to strengthen the national information system and promote operational research through analysis of health determinants.
STRATEGIC PRIORITY 2
Health system strengthening and provision of quality health services
- Provide multipronged technical support control of AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis in Equatorial Guinea.
- Provide special support for the health system reform, including all its components, i.e., provision of health services, capacity building in hospitals, health management teams, funding, medical products such as vaccines and technology; leadership and governance in the health field, etc.
STRATEGIC PRIORITY 3
Improve maternal, child and teenage health
- Implement a road map to reduce maternal, neonatal and infant mortality through the integrated action plans
- Help to implement reproductive health policy
- Implement child survival initiatives through acceleration campaigns focused on the routine Expanded Programme on Immunisation and maintain this level by strengthening the Reach Every District strategy, the implementation of Integrated Management of Childhood Illness activities and the dissemination of norms regarding child nutrition.
STRATEGIC PRIORITY 4
Manage the health consequences of emergence and disasters
- Support initial and ongoing assessments of priority health needs to determine the requirements of affected populations and adapt the response to ensure the coordination of actions between the Ministry of Health and the different departments involved in crisis management
- Strengthen local capacities to implement the contingency plan for epidemic preparedness and response.
STRATEGIC PRIORITY 5
- Strengthen programs to establish an environment conducive to health, focusing primarily on schoolchildren and children from shanty towns
- Support initiatives to promote behaviour change conducive to good health, in particular the control of tobacco, alcohol and other addictions.
Malaria is still the main cause for children’s death under 5 years old. However, as a result of government’s investments and initiatives, the prevalence of malaria in children has decreased by 57% in the last four years (2011 data), according to a study by Roll Back Malaria.5
The same study shows that, during the same period, the number of children protected from mosquitoes by bed netting or the indoor spraying of insecticide has increased from 4% to 97%.
On 7 March, the successful vaccination of the first three volunteers for a malaria vaccine took place in Equatorial Guinea. This vaccine, known as PfSPZ, has been under development for two years, led by the American biotechnology company Sanaria which specialises in malaria research. It is considered to be one of the most advanced prospects in the continuing efforts to end this disease. The team involved in the trial launch included staff from the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, the Ifakara Health Institute in Tanzania, the La Paz Medical Centre in Sipopo, and Sanaria.6
The launch of these trials is of great historical and social significance given the complex and deadly nature of the malaria virus, and the wide geographical spread that the virus affects. Equatorial Guinea is launching this vaccine with support from the Government, through the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare and the Ministry of Mines, Industry and Energy. Also supporting the development and roll-out of the vaccine are the Program for Malaria NGO and private companies in Equatorial Guinea such as Marathon, Noble Energy, Atlantic Methanol and EG LNG.7
This first trial will continue over the next year with additional injections for the volunteers, as well as further follow-up consultations.
From 20-21 July, Equatorial Guinea will host the first International Conference on Ebola at the Sipopo Conference Centre in Malabo. The slogan of the conference is “Africa helping Africans in the Ebola Recovery and Reconstruction”, demonstrating the spirit of the conference which seeks to fully harness African potential and values to complement the work of international development institutions against Ebola.
A number of heads of state and government from the African Union’s 54 member countries will be in attendance at the conference, alongside various ministers of Health, Finance and Foreign Affairs from across the continent. Participating international institutions include the African Development Bank (AfDB) and the United Nations, among others. Attendees will work together to create a global policy to combat Ebola and other endemic diseases in Africa, ensuring that national health system are well-equipped to take action against such outbreaks in the future.
More information on the event can be found on the African Union website: http://pages.au.int/ebola/events/international-conference-africa%E2%80%99s-fight-against-ebola-%E2%80%9Cafrica-helping-africans-ebola-re
For participants in the conference, please click here for an informative guide on the logistics of the conference (in Spanish). This includes content on reserving hotels, organising transportation and obtaining visas (if applicable).