By Hezron Ochiel
Amref Health Africa has outlined proposals to help accelerate the attainment of Universal Health Coverage (UHC). The health institution has partnered with Kenya’s National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) to fast-track the scale-up of UHC by using Community Health Workers (CHWs) as agents for NHIF registration at community level. Speaking during the UHC Financing Forum in Washington in April, Amref Health Africa Group CEO Dr Githinji Gitahi said that the organisation has already aligned its programmes in readiness for the roll-out.
“Borrowing from our corporate strategy, we target to increase ﬁnancial protection for communities by working with CHWs to educate them on the importance of getting medical cover,” he said. “We also target to mobilise donor resources for health subsidies. We want to use the donor money to catalyse UHC.”
The main principal of UHC is that everyone is able to access basic health services without ﬁnancial hitches. In many countries of sub-Saharan Africa, where out-of-pocket expenditure pushes large numbers of households into extreme poverty, ﬁnancial protection is particularly necessary, yet non-existent.
Dr Gitahi said that Amref has oﬀered to act as an implementer for governments, giving them an avenue to channel funds to various programmes.
“Since we are strong in training, we will continue to build capacities of health workers and institutions,” he said.
Amref has been advocating for the recognition and remuneration of CHWs, and their integration into the formal health workforce in African countries as they are pivotal to achieving UHC.
Dr Gitahi noted that capacity building for citizens is a priority as it will go a long way in creating social accountability. He said that citizens should be involved in the budget making processes, designing health programmes and demanding for their rights.
“We want citizens to be proactive. We want them to ask hard questions, such as ‘where did our money go’? With this, there will be some sort of accountability,” he said.
Dr Gitahi was recently appointed co-chair of the UHC2030 Steering Committee, a global responsibility he will undertake even as he continues to head Amref’s day-to-day operations.
The UHC2030 is a World Bank and World Health Organisation forum for achievement of UHC by 2030 and has membership across countries, private sector and civil society organisations.
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Hezron Ochiel is the Communications Officer, Health Systems Advocacy Partnership project at Amref Health Africa in Kenya.