Nine African Countries Discuss Solutions for Financial Protection and Improving Access to Health Care

 {Graphic: African Strategies for Health}Officials from nine African countries convened in Ghana to find solutions to common challenges of attaining universal health coverage (UHC) with sustainability and improved quality of care.Graphic: African Strategies for Health

by African Strategies for Health

The goals of universal health coverage (UHC) can only be delivered when access to health services and financial risk protection are equitably addressed.

Officials from nine African countries convened in Ghana to find solutions to common challenges of attaining UHC with sustainability and improved quality of care. These countries—Benin, Côte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Ghana, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Togo, and Uganda—have demonstrated commitment to attaining UHC and are considering how to reduce the funding gap through two critical actions: 1) larger domestic resource mobilization; and 2) improving value for money and reducing waste and inefficiencies in the use of resources.

The US Agency for International Development (USAID), in partnership with Ghana’s Ministry of Health, National Health Insurance Authority of Ghana, and the World Health Organization (WHO), co-hosted the “Financial Protection and Improved Access to Health Care: Peer-to-Peer Learning Workshop” in Accra from February 15-19, 2016. Co-organized by USAID’s Health Finance & Governance (HFG) Project, the five-day workshop aimed to deepen understanding of how financial resources can be mobilized to increase financial protection and improve efficiencies through better financial management and other measures.

MSH representatives from USAID’s African Strategies for Health (ASH) Project and Systems for Improved Access to Pharmaceutical Systems (SIAPS) Program, and MSH staff from Rwanda and Uganda, participated in the workshop, along with representatives from the nine countries’ Ministries of Health, Finance and national finance agencies, USAID missions, other NGOs, WHO, and the private sector.

The workshop explored how to, “turn theory into practice and [provided] a comprehensive overview of the key concepts of in financial protection,” said one participant.

In preparation for the workshop, a series of country profiles were developed, providing in-depth perspectives on the health financing and UHC situations in each of the 9 countries in attendance. The country health financing profiles are available for download in English and French on African Strategies for Health's website.

During the workshop, country teams committed to advancing health financing reforms and identified partner support, markers of progress, and timelines that would allow them to track implementation. Two highlights included commitments from Senegal to produce an investment plan by the third quarter of 2016, and from Nigeria, where strategy development will commence in 10 states with existing structures for health care financing. Development partners resolved to exchange updates at least quarterly, and USAID agreed to organize the first set of plans, with other agencies, such as WHO or the World Bank, eventually taking over future coordination.

Additional workshop materials are available on the HFG project website.