7 February 2013

Africa: SA to Host Afro-Asia Health Insurance Forum

AFRICAN and Asian countries will meet in South Africa next month to discuss the role that health insurance can play in achieving universal coverage and social protection on the two continents. The African Development Bank is organising the meeting in collaboration with the German International Co-operation, the International Labour Organisation and the World Health Organisation in close consultation with the government of the Republic of South Africa.

Representatives from ministries of finance and health, national health insurance authorities and development partners, as well as experts and practitioners from Asia and Africa will attend the forum, entitled "Achieving Universal Coverage through Health Financing Reform".

The meeting, which takes place from March 11-14 in Centurion, is expected to attract an estimated 60 representatives from 16 African and four Asian countries.

"It aims to facilitate knowledge exchange between African and Asian countries on building coherent and sustainable health financing systems (prepayment, pooling and strategic spending) that are geared to achieving universal health coverage," the AfDB said in a statement.

"Focusing on the Southern African region, the forum will explore in particular the role of extending coverage of pooled financing mechanisms (often under the label of 'health insurance'), for moving closer to universal health coverage."

The bank said the forum would also discuss the challenges and limitations of different approaches to revenue contribution in closing healthcare coverage gaps.

Millions of people in Africa and Asia do not even seek health care due to high costs.

A number of countries in Sub-Saharan Africa are currently reforming their national health financing systems with a view to achieving universal health coverage and social protection for all.

Zimbabwe's National Health Insurance Scheme has been on the cards for the past 10 to 15 years but to date nothing has materialised.

New Ziana

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