South Africa to host Afro-Asia Health Insurance forum

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In an effort to build coherent and sustainable health financing systems, 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, Zimbabwe’s The Herald reports.

In collaboration with the German International Co-operation, the International Labour Organisation and the World Health Organisation, the African Development Bank (AFDB) is organising the meeting, which takes place from 11 to 14 March in Centurion.

About 60 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.

“It aims to facilitate knowledge exchange between African and Asian countries on building coherent and sustainable health financing systems, like prepayment, pooling and strategic spending, that are geared to achieving universal health coverage,” the African Development Bank says in a statement.

It went on to say that focussing 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 adds that the forum will discuss the challenges and limitations of different approaches to revenue contribution in closing healthcare coverage gaps. A number of countries in sub-Saharan African are currently reforming their national financing systems with a view to achieve universal health coverage and social protection for all.

But this will prove challenging. Zimbabwe’s National Health Insurance Scheme has been on the cards for the past 10 to 15 years, but to date, nothing has materialised. South Africa is in the process of rolling out its own NHI scheme, although progress is slow and constrained by a lack of capacity and resources.