RWANDA’s Minister of Health, Diane Gashumba, has called on African countries to collaborate in funding health care systems on the continent.
Dr. Diane Gashumba was speaking at the opening of the Africa Health Agenda International Conference 2019 (Africa Health 2019) in Kigali, Rwanda on February 5.
“Investing in Universal Health Coverage is one of the smartest investments a country can make,” said Dr Gashumba.
“In the past two decades, African countries have displayed commendable leadership in furthering the UHC agenda across the continent. We must ensure that this movement is sustained through greater domestic investments in health care and that all ministries and stakeholders do their part,” she stated.
The conference, which is co-hosted by Amref Health Africa and Rwanda’s Ministry of Health, has brought together over 1,200 participants from more than 35 countries.
The participants include health ministers, private sector leaders, civil society and representatives from multilateral organisations, to chart a roadmap to achieve universal health coverage across Africa by 2030.
Speakers at the opening ceremony included Dr Diane Gashumba, Minister of Health of Rwanda; Dr Githinji Gitahi, Group CEO, Amref Health Africa; Dr Ian Askew, Director of the Department of Reproductive Health and Research, World Health Organization; and Dr Humphrey Karamagi, SDG Coordinator and health information team leader, World Health Organization Africa regional office.
“Health is the most fundamental human right on which all other rights can be enjoyed. Universal health coverage is its guarantee,” said Dr Githinji Gitahi, Group CEO at Amref Health Africa.
“Going forward, we need to galvanise political will at the highest levels of government, mobilise greater resources to eliminate catastrophic health costs, and invest in community-led interventions,” he stated
Speakers highlighted the urgency of accelerating efforts to reach universal health coverage in African countries, including the need for increased domestic financing and greater political prioritisation of universal health coverage.
Many of the speakers noted Rwanda’s commitment to expanding health coverage through its near-universal health care system, as well as its investments in strengthening primary health care and the community health workforce.
Rwanda has made impressive progress in the past two decades, and its nationwide community-based health insurance model covers nearly 90% of all Rwandans today, including the poorest of the poor.
Meanwhile, Global Health Strategies (GHS) has announced that the UN General Assembly will in September 2019 hold the first-ever UN High-Level Meeting on universal health coverage.
GHS – South Africa manager, Sikelelwa Geya Mdingi, said that the General Assembly is expected to galvanise global commitment to universal health coverage by voting on a historic political declaration in support of health for all.
“In the run up to the High-Level meeting on universal health coverage, Africa Health 2019 will serve as a platform where participants from across the African continent can make their voices heard and contribute their perspectives to the forthcoming declaration on UHC,” he said.