Minister Jean-Paul Adam participated in a special event at the 68th session of the African Health Ministers meeting in Dakar Senegal, to launch the new ‘State of Health in the WHO African region’ report, whereby Seychelles’ efforts were hailed as exemplary.
Seychelles was one of 7 countries invited to present their experiences in terms of delivering wide coverage and universal access to health care in the African region.
In his intervention Minister Adam outlined Seychelles rights based approach to health care- whereby the dignity of the individual and right of access to care is enshrined in the Constitution. This right is then translated into action by ensuring equity of access at the community level, where citizens have easily reachable health centres where care and medicines are available. The Minister emphasized the importance for the access to care being free at the point of access- whether it be primary, secondary or tertiary care. The Minister pointed out that the wide access to health care facilities meant that almost 100% of deliveries happened in the hospital. This also meant that Seychelles has dramatically reduced maternal mortality with only one maternal death recorded in the last 3 years.
The Minister also emphasized the importance of sustained investment in the health sector, and with a focus on efficiency. The new report shows that Seychelles invests consistently in health. It also shows that Seychelles has the best performance index of 0.70, as well as the best investment index. In terms of efficiency Seychelles is 7th in terms of spending per capita, however is first in terms of performance.
Additionally the Minister underlined the importance of long term investment in human resource capacity- recognizing this as a particular challenge for Small Island Developing States.
In the intervention, the Minister also highlighted the move being made to increase spending on prevention, with the percentage rising recently to 12.5% of health sector spending which is higher than some OECD countries. This was in line with the ‘My Health, My Responsibility’ campaign as well as the campaign to reduce sedentary lifestyle and increase exercise around the theme of ‘Move it’ or ‘Bouze’ in Creole.
The importance of focusing on WHO ‘best buys’ was also underline with Seychelles having recently introduced the rotavirus vaccine and about to introduce the pneumococcal vaccine in September. Seychelles is a leader in vaccination achieving rates close to 100%.
Finally the Minister also emphasized the importance of a ‘Health in all’ approach- whereby all sectors of the Government and the economy are looked at in terms of their contributions to health outcomes. In this regard the focus on ensuring access to treated water and appropriate sanitation has been a consistent priority for the government.
During the session of 29th August, the Minister also intervened on the subject of sustainable financing for Universal Health Coverage. The Minister drew attention to Seychelles’ successful model of direct funding through direct taxation to ensure free access at point of use.
He also illustrated the escalation of costs for Small Island African States particularly based on the increased burden of Non Communicable Diseases. Thus he called on support for the implementation of national health insurance mechanisms as well as support to ensure proper data for small islands. He also briefed the meeting on the Seychelles’ proposed Sugar Tax to take effect in 2019 which will simultaneously encourage reduction in consumption of sugar sweetened beverages while also raising additional revenue for investment in the health sector.
The Minister is accompanied in Dakar by Dr. Meggy Louange- Director General for Public Health. The WHO Representative for Seychelles, Dr. Teniin Gakuru is also in attendance at the conference.