Africa Health: Expanding Health Insurance in Developing Countries
By Joe DeCapua:
Africa: Rwanda will host a regional conference next week (9-11/13), with a focus on health insurance. Rwanda has been praised for moving toward universal coverage for its population. But many say it's a complicated issue that does not have a one-size-fits-all solution.
The Conference on Social Health Protection in the East African Community will consider various approaches to providing universal health coverage inRwanda, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania and Burundi.
Universal coverage is the subject of a new study that reviewed health systems in 12 African and Asian countries.
The World Health Organization's Joe Kutzin says universal coverage is more of a "direction than a destination."
"What it means you want to move towards universal coverage, which means you want to improve access. You want to improve financial protection and you want to improve quality. And in that sense, those are goals for every country in the world. So it's relevant to every African country, every European country, the U.S. and so on, to make progress towards those goals," he said.
Kutzin is coordinator of health financing policy and analyzed the study published in the Bulletin of the World Health Organization.
Dr. Ernst Spaan, one of the authors, said, "There is a lot of debate going on on how to finance health services in developing countries. In Asia and Africa there is a lot of debate on should they focus on social health insurance or community-based health insurance? And we actually looked into that and we found out there are a lot of studies, but it's a bit patchy. So we decided to do a systematic review of the literature."
Spaan is a senior researcher and lecturer in public health at the Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Center in the Netherlands.