1st Pan African Congress on Universal Health Coverage held in Ghana
Ministers, Academics and health experts from 50 African countries joined their counterparts in Ghana from 15th to 17th November 2011 in Accra to discuss best ways to initiate and sustain long term health insurance schemes across Africa.
The three day congress was hosted by Centre for Health & Social Services (CHeSS), and supported by the Rockefeller Foundation and World Health Organisation. The Congress initiated dialogue between government ministers, stakeholders and experts on policies which aims to strengthen and expand National Health Insurance Schemes in Africa.
Various speakers presented papers that analyze the feasibility and import of social health insurance as a mechanism for promoting universal coverage and provide perspectives on the way forward. Participants also peer reviewed existing practices and came out with issues to inform a framework for action and a platform for intra-support and program sustainability. It will provide an opportunity for international agencies such as the World Bank, the World Health Organisation, UNAIDS and GIZ.
Dr. James Nyoro, Africa Managing Director for the Rockefeller Foundation said: “A great deal of work has already been done on health insurance on the continent but there is a need to draw available material together, focus on the neglected issues and integrate insights on these areas into the overall health insurance policy framework.”
He said the Rockefeller Foundation considers Universal Health Coverage as critical to creating affordable, high quality health services that ensures better health outcomes and financial protection especially for the poor and vulnerable groups in Africa and around the world. He reiterated the foundation's commitment to provide support for countries working in that direction.
"Ghana's work in this space and its achievement in providing coverage for over half of its citizens is a prime example of what African countries can achieve when political will and leadership provide impetus for change. We salute the government of Ghana and Rwanda of being the first in the continent to take this challenge," Dr. James Nyoro.
Currently, health care financing in many African countries is predominantly paid for by users out of pocket. The strain of high health care costs on household livelihoods calls for immediate attention and relentless efforts on the part of policy makers.
Ghana's Minister of Health, Hon. Joseph Yieleh Chireh, who represented the Vice President John Dramani Mahama, remarked: “Universal health insurance is very important to Africa's development. We believe that it is crucial to offer all, regardless of economic standing, quality health care at an affordable cost. This is why it is important to engage in the dialogue on ways to make universal health care work in Africa”
Chief Executive of the Centre for Health and Social Services Mr. Sam Adjei stated that “Bringing expects across the continent to discuss Universal Health Insurance will provide the opportunity to share best practices that is what has worked and what hasn't worked across the continent.”
As part of congress activities, delegates paid site visits to district national health insurance schemes, health processing centres, and National Health Insurance Authority headquarters in Accra.
There were presentations by representatives from Rockefeller foundation, West African Health Organisation (WAHO),National Health Insurance Authority Ghana(NHIA) and School of Public Health and Family Medicine University of Capetown.
Story by Ghana/Africapractice