Healthcare Convention Doubles Down on Universal Health Coverage for Africa

by Amref Health Africa

By Samuel Getachew

The Africa Health Agenda International Conference, an initiative of Amref Health Africa, one of the largest health-related conferences in the continent hosted its biennial gathering inside Kigali’s Convention Centre in Rwanda this week. The five day event, including a two-day Youth Pre-Conference highlighted the need to have universal health coverage across the African continent by 2030.

Among the highlights was a mixture of scientific tracks, dozens of workshops and had more than 1500 delegates in attendance, including hundreds of healthcare workers across the continent and parliamentarians from half-a dozen nations such as Ghana, Kenya, Rwanda, Senegal, Tanzania and Zambia signing the “Kigali UHC Communiqué,” as a strategy to push for universal health care in their respective nations.

There were plenty of speakers including Michel Sidebe, the Executive Director of UNAIDS, Jean Kagubare (MD) of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Katja Iversen, the President & CEO of Women Deliver and Tedros Adhanom (PhD) joining via satellite.

Ethiopia’s Health Minister, Amir Aman (MD) was recognized for his efforts in strengthening primary healthcare joining Paul Kagame of Rwanda, who was also recognized as a Universal HealthCare Presidential Champion “for his relentless political leadership and accountability to advance the (universal healthcare) cause in Rwanda and serving as an example for the region.”

His nation of 11 million people is noted for managing to cover 90 percent of its population with a community based insurance scheme.It involves 60,000 citizens becoming a healthcare worker and taking part in a short-term training program to help facilitate the healthcare needs of the population.

“Delighted to receive UHC Ministerial Championship Award in recognition to home-grown& grass-root oriented HEP,” Minister Amir tweeted as his award was announced and dedicated it to the 40,000 healthcare workers of Ethiopia.

SenaitFisseha, an Ethiopian community health worker from the Tigray region was also honored for her leadership in community health and was a panel speaker on the topic of health delivery and accountability with Rwanda’s Minister of Health, Diane Gashumba.

A new initiative, the Women in Global Health (WGH) Africa Regional Hub was also launched as a strategy to put in place a greater emphasis on general equity in the leadership of global health within the continent as well as i-PUSH – a partnership of Amref Health Africa and PharmAccess Foundation – to use technology as a mechanism to empower women with vital health related information and connect them to healthcare financing for community health development.

“We are delighted at the diverse participation of leaders from across sectors and are thankful for their contributions to improve healthcare in Africa,” said Githinji Gitahi, Group CEO of Amref Health Africa.

“The conference communiqué calls for increased political commitment to financing UHC, in investment in Africa’s future health workforce, and accountability and inclusion mechanism allowing people to make their voices heard.”

The gathering comes on the eve of the United Nations General Assembly conference high-level gathering to push for universal healthcare in the world.

Amref was founded in 1957 by British medical surgeons, to serve hard-to-reach rural areas on small planes across East Africa. It has since expanded to include medical training and community health development in many parts of the region.

This article was first published by The Reporter HERE.

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