Rwandan President Paul Kagame told the World Health Assembly that Rwanda has managed to cover 90% of citizens with health insurance, reports Health-e News. “Two-thirds of the costs are covered by contributions from beneficiaries, with government subsidising the remaining one-third,” Kagame told the world’s health leaders while delivering the assembly’s keynote address.
Universal health coverage (UHC) – ensuring that everyone has access to healthcare – is a key theme of the WHA, and the World Health Organisation (WHO) has committed to ensuring that an additional 1bn people get health coverage by 2023.
“Ghana, Kenya, Morocco, and Senegal all offer a subsidy to insurance,” said Kagame. “Ethiopia is a pioneer in the use of Community Health Workers as the frontline of primary healthcare, and Ghana is also deploying them with great success.”
But Kagame warned that Africa lacks the personnel and facilities to extend universal coverage to all, and that half the funding for this would have to go towards training and paying health workers. “The International Labour Organisation estimates that Africa’s health economy workforce today is missing almost 17m workers in both health and non-health occupations. Under Universal Health Coverage, that shortage is projected to increase to 26m by 2030,” said Kagame.
WHO director-general Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told the assembly that “all roads should lead to universal health coverage”. Referring to the latest outbreak of Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Tedros said “health security and universal health coverage are two sides of the same coin. The best thing we can do to prevent future outbreaks is to strengthen health systems everywhere.”
Countries around the world are making progress in extending health coverage to their citizens: “India has announced its new National Health Protection Scheme, called Ayushman Bharat, which will benefit 500m people and establish 150,000 health and wellness centres,” said Tedros. “And Brazil has already submitted a list of 10 commitments it’s making on UHC. Japan, a country that first introduced UHC in 1961, has taken a leadership role, hosting the UHC Forum in Tokyo last December, and committing $2.9bn to support UHC around the world.
“Many of the other countries I have visited, including China, Cuba, Denmark, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka, Thailand, the United Arab Emirates and the UK are living proof that universal health coverage is not a pipe-dream; it’s a reality for countries all over the world, at all income levels.”
Tedros described Rwanda as “an outstanding example of how all countries at all income levels can make progress towards UHC”. “At the health centre I visited in Mayange, just outside Kigali, all pregnant women deliver at the health centre, all children are vaccinated, and all residents have community health insurance. A focus on primary health care and community ownership – that is the best mix that can bring results.”Health-e News report