On October 28, Health Systems Global (HSG)’s Translating Evidence into Action Working Group hosted a webinar on a regional initiative to empower public and private leaders in Francophone Africa with evidence and research related to universal health coverage (UHC). In response to calls for UHC reforms in the region, the African Health Economics and Policy Association (AfHEA) has trained over 45 policymakers and other stakeholders from 16 countries across Francophone Africa to address their urgent need for relevant evidence and knowledge to advance their country’s progress towards UHC. Training participants were self- or employer- financed, and came from Ministries of Health, quasi-governmental agencies (social security agencies, health insurance), or were young African researchers, analysts, and activists in civil society.
The webinar focused on how AfHEA made the wealth of evidence on financing and structuring UHC in English, accessible in French (What did policy makers need to make UHC policy and how did AfHEA get it to them successfully?) and how the training participants continue to support each other in using evidence to inform policy (Where do policymakers go for evidence or technical support and what is most useful to them?). The hour-long webinar—held in French with a separate line for simultaneous English translation—saw over 50 participants and featured four speakers.
- Pascal Ndiaye, Health Finance and Policy Specialist, AfHEA (Moderator)
- Miloud Kaddar, Senior Health Economist, World Health Organization (Panelist)
- Marie Nome Essoh Lattroh, Technical Adviser, Ministry of Economy and Finance, Senegal (Panelist)
- Hugues B.M. Tchibozo, Deputy Director General, National Health Insurance Agency, Ministry of Health, Benin (Panelist)
The panel included training participants (Ms. Lattroh and Mr. Tchibozo), an instructor (Mr. Kaddar), and an organizer (Mr. Ndiaye). The diverse experiences provided for a rich panel and discussion.
Major takeaways from the webinar:
- The increased global focus on UHC represents an opportunity to advance policies and strategies for extending health care access to vulnerable populations across Africa.
- UHC should be a medium to long term goal requiring a health systems approach and sustained engagement by all actors and stakeholders.
- There is no single source of funding for UHC.
- Resolving shortages and unequal distribution of the health workforce in Africa is essential for achieving UHC.
- While the term “universal” signals that the entire population will be “covered,” an unanswered question is: covered with what? What benefits or interventions represent “coverage”?
- The importance and diversity of the informal sector requires special attention. Policies must be based on context-specific evidence of what works.