By Sola Ogundipe
PRIVATE sector participation and a strong regulatory framework have been mooted as factors that can drive Universal Health Coverage, UHC, in Africa.
In her submission at the just concluded inaugural edition of the Africa Health Forum in Rwanda recently, Managing Director, Avon Health Management Organisation, Mrs. Adesimbo Ukiri, said the most significant contribution private companies like HMOs make to the achievement of UHC is the ability to pool resources together from all segments of the population.
Ukiri argued that such move would enable wide coverage to ensure better access to healthcare services, unhindered by financial constraints that may lead to the needless loss of lives or catastrophic financial ruin.
Speaking during the panel discussion on the topic: “Making Universal Healthcare Work in Africa – How Can the Private Sector Contribute” while citing the the Nigerian experience, noted that although health insurance is not yet mandatory in the country, stakeholders are advocating for a change in legislation to ensure that companies with up to five employees subscribe to a health insurance scheme for staff and their families.
“The number of people contributing towards health insurance is still inadequate and almost insignificant.”
She shared an experience of how Avon HMO partnered with a major international oil company, community leaders and the local government to implement a community health scheme in Idemili, Eastern Nigeria.
The Scheme has alleviated the healthcare challenges and is a source of succour to the community till date.
The event tagged: “Putting People First: The Road to Universal Health Coverage in Africa”, was a platform for key players in Africa’s health ecosystem to discuss persistent challenges in public health as well as innovative strategies, partnerships and opportunities that can be leveraged in order to deliver Universal Health Coverage (UHC) as part of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
After about four years of operation, Avon HMO has distinguished itself as a leading health maintenance organisation in Nigeria and has been at the forefront of service delivery and innovation.