TOP
Sunday,August 02,2020 20:35 PM
  • Home
  • Opinion
  • Achieving Universal Health Coverage in Africa; What Needs to be Done?

Achieving Universal Health Coverage in Africa; What Needs to be Done?

By Admin

Added 4th September 2019 01:35 PM

In 2015, Africa accounted for about 1% of the total global health expenditures, in per capita terms this implies that the rest of the World spends 10 times more on health care than Africa.

Achieving Universal Health Coverage in Africa; What Needs to be Done?

In 2015, Africa accounted for about 1% of the total global health expenditures, in per capita terms this implies that the rest of the World spends 10 times more on health care than Africa.

OPINION

Universal health coverage (UHC) is defined as ensuring that all people have access to needed health services (including prevention, promotion, treatment, rehabilitation, and palliation) of sufficient quality to be effective while also ensuring that the use of these services does not expose the user the financial hardship.

Universal health coverage has, therefore, become a major goal for health reform in many countries and a priority objective of World Health Organization.

However, achieving of universal health coverage requires large sums of money but estimates show that among the 67 low-income countries and middle-income countries represent 95% of the population in these countries but the annual financing gap to reach Sustainable Development Goals on UHC is more than $370 billion.

It is important to note that about half of these countries are in sub-Saharan Africa where the health financing gap is acute yet Africa makes up 16% of the world population but carriers 23% of the global disease burden.

In 2015, Africa accounted for about 1% of the total global health expenditures, in per capita terms this implies that the rest of the World spends 10 times more on health care than Africa.

Note that in 2016, 44% of the current health expenditures in Africa were financed through domestic government funds. However, more than 37% of all Africa's health spending comes from out-of-pocket payment.

Such a burden has significant implications for households such that statistics show that 11% of Africans experience catastrophic spending in accessing health care annually whereas more than 38% delay or forgo health care due to high costs.

Furthermore, increased donor funding to the health sector (in Uganda, the health sector budget is about 50% donor-funded) is still not sufficient enough to improve financing need to attain universal health coverage because external support for health is a tiny share of global health spending just at 9% for Africa.

The Addis Ababa Action Agenda of 2015 emphasized the need to strengthen domestic revenue collection and resources allocation efforts as strategies to attaining UHC but it is not clear how many African countries are actually doing this.

Nevertheless, strengthening revenue collection efforts and improving allocation of existing public resources to achieve universal health coverage can be done through: one; strengthening tax capacity to allow for "fair space" for financing health and social sectors, even at a constant budget share, two; as national income and domestic revenues increase, the allocation of public funds to health should be better prioritized within existing annual fiscal frameworks, three; strengthening high-level leadership to encourage greater engagement between health and finance authorities in determining the level and allocation of health public budgets, four; beyond budget prioritization, improving predictability in both domestic and external resources as a key to allowing effective planning and implementation of sector activities, five; prioritizing and strengthening better documentation in the use and benefits of public funds committed to health across socio-economic groups to ensure that all levels of health financing systems are more accountable and transparent such that "no one is left behind" is not just a slogan, six; defining packages of essential services to be purchased in alignment with adequately designed service provider incentives which could help direct public financing into more effective delivery of priority health services to priority populations.

Eventually, achieving universal health coverage in Africa will depend on strengthening revenue collection efforts and improving allocation of existing public resources.

Micheal Mugisha; Research Fellow- mmugisha@udn.or.ug

Related articles

More From The Author

More From The Author