Amref Health Africa Calls on Nurses to Take Active Role in Universal Health Coverage

by Amref Health Africa

“Health systems will only work if we create robust systems for health NOT for healthcare, for people not for patients, for communities not for particular professions, or sectors,” Dr. Githinji Gitahi, Group CEO Amref Health Africa.

Delegates at the 5th Global Network for Public Health Nursing (GNPHN) Conference in Nairobi have backed a call for the nurses to take an active role in championing for universal health coverage (UHC).

Attendees led by Kenya’s First Lady Margaret Kenyatta, Amref Health Africa Group Chief Executive Officer, Dr Githinji Gitahi among other global leaders expressed “deep concern” about dwindling funding for Africa’s public health and called on more investments for the sector.

While delivering his keynote address, Dr. Gitahi emphasised on the need for more investment on primary health care, noting that the current model for health service delivery does not respond to disease burden.

“Statistically, countries with higher health expenditures have a higher life expectancy. Increased health expenditures are achieved through efficient tax collection and increased budgetary allocations by the governments,” he said.

“The problem with UHC is that everyone is advocating for what is relevant for them. When you meet doctors, for instance, they misconceive UHC to better pay for them. UHC is about reaching those who are behind first – it is about financial protection,” he added.

A Global Conference on Primary Health Care in Astana, Kazakhstan in October 2018 endorsed a new declaration emphasising the critical role of primary health care around the world. The declaration aims to refocus efforts on primary health care.

Dr Githinji who is also the Co-Chair of the Steering Committee of UHC2030 noted that many communities live far away from health facilities and thus making it hard for them to prioritise health unless they are facing the threat of death.

Ms Kenyatta, on the other hand, reiterated government’s commitment to working with partners in strengthening capacities for the nurses to enhance quality health service delivery.

She noted that the nurses’ work in challenging conditions and more resources should be allocated to ensure high-quality health service delivery.

Other speakers included Kenya’s Health and Education Cabinet Secretaries Sicily Kariuki and Prof George Magoha consecutively, University of Nairobi Vice Chancellor Prof Peter Mbithi and the Chairman of the Global Network for Public Health Nursing Prof Linda Smith.

The conference whose theme dubbed “Public health nurses achieving sustainable development goals (SDG) 3-Good health and wellbeing,” included attendance from a varied number of stakeholders in the health sector globally and was being held in Africa for the first time.

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