Algeria stands as unique example of universal health care in Africa
At the end of the Algerian war, in 1962, there were only five ophthalmologists in the whole country. Since then, Algeria has gone through a large reorganization, established a national health care system and greatly increased human resources in all branches of medicine.
“We are now 1,500 ophthalmologists, which is undoubtedly a great progress. Nevertheless, this number is not yet sufficient to serve a population of 38 million. We are far from covering the needs of our patients,” Boualem Chachoua, MD, president of the national association of private ophthalmologists, said.
In the years of French colonization, access to higher education was limited for native Algerians.
“At high school, only seven were Algerians in my class; the rest were French. Our parents were poor, and only a small minority could afford to pay for us to go to university. Moreover, access was mostly denied to us. You had to fight your way through by showing the very best results at school to be admitted. When I entered university in 1966, Algerian students were around 1,000 in the whole country,” Chachoua said.