The world has agreed that health coverage should be universal. SDG Goal 3.8 sets the following target for 2030: Achieve universal health coverage, including financial risk protection, access to quality essential health care services and access to safe, effective, quality, and affordable essential medicines and vaccines for all.
Africa has witnessed a rapid increase in expenditure over the last two decades with increasing out-of-pocket expenditure for primary healthcare services. Access to health plays a central role in enabling sustainable development, economic growth and prosperity. Integration of UHC as a goal in the national health strategies of African countries in becoming increasingly critical and important as the continent continues to bear the highest disease burden, an increasing population and the lack of a health workforce to meet healthcare demands. Yet, achieving UHC no longer seems distant.
Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General, recently pointed out, “UHC is more a political than an economic challenge”, highlighting the need for further commitment from national governments to increase their spending, with an emphasis on national governments to increase healthcare budgets allowing for access to primary healthcare.
A structured, collaborative action on universal health coverage is imperative to meet the shared goals of expanding patient access to healthcare through innovative solutions, and achieving long-term sustainability of the health sector will require higher involvement from the private health sector and development partners to support the public sector in achieving this goal at national, regional and continental levels.
Given the complexities associated with UHC, governments should explore working through public-private partnerships focused on a wide range of areas, from health literacy and health system strengthening to access to quality service and financial protection schemes. UHC will only be achieved after a process of learning from experiences and evolving innovation; such processes will produce the best healthcare models, tailored to the needs of each country, instead of “one-size-fits-all” solutions that potentially limit growth. Diversified approaches will create the road map to significantly expand the number of people covered by risk pooling arrangements, with substantial benefits to health care, optimizing resource use and maximizing results and “leaving no one behind.”
With this backdrop, the 3rd edition of the Africa Health Business Symposium (AHBS) will be a key platform to discuss “Achieving UHC in Africa: Stronger Together”.
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