African Governments Urged to Invest More in Health Sector to Meet SDGs

August 2016 rwandafocus; According to ‘ONE Campaign Africa DATA Report’ launched yesterday, Africa as a region is lagging furthest behind when it comes to health-related sustainable development goals.

On September 25th 2015, countries adopted a set of goals to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure prosperity for all as part of a new sustainable development agenda. Each goal has specific targets to be achieved over the next 15 years.

“If African governments do not invest more into the health sector toward poor populations, the health related Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) will not be achieved in the region by 2030,” quotes the statement.The report focuses on health financing, outcomes, and inequality within sub-Saharan Africa.

Investments in the health sector by sub-Saharan African governments have seen significant improvements in life expectancy and general overall health. However according to the report Africa’s poorest 20% face the worst health outcomes as governments continue to under-invest in the health sector.

The report titled ‘Health Financing, Outcomes, and Inequality in sub-Saharan Africa’ cautions that governments must ensure investments in health so as to reach the poorest and most vulnerable groups. It also proposes innovative uses of technology and social protection programs.

The report further shows sub-Saharan Africa has the highest rates of child mortality, and faces the highest risk of malaria, accounting for roughly 90% of cases and deaths globally. Income inequality has also had a substantial effect in the region as progress in health outcomes in key areas has been faster for the wealthy compared to the poor.

It also shows that in the 15 years since the Abuja Declaration, in which African governments committed to spend 15% of their budgets towards health, less than half of these African countries have met this target in any given year. On average, between 2012 and 2014, only Malawi, Swaziland, and Ethiopia met this target.

“Investing in health has been shown to save lives and grow the economy. A study found that for every 10% increase in government health expenditure per capita, there has been a 25% reduction in under-five mortality and a 21% reduction in infant mortality,” reads the report adding that a 2013 study found that, between 2000 and 2011, upwards of 5.7% of GDP growth in sub-Saharan Africa was attributable to improved health.

A recent 2016 study showed that for every US dollar invested in immunizing children in low and middle-income countries, $16 is expected to be saved in healthcare costs in the future.

Where Rwanda stands as far as health financing is concerned. Rwanda operates a universal health care system, and is considered to have one of the highest-quality health systems in Africa.

It has had an uphill climb in the recovery of its health system as well as its economy. However, it has since built one of the best healthcare systems in the region.

According to the source in 2008, the government spent 9.7% of national expenditure on healthcare, compared with 3.2% in 1996, health insurance became mandatory for all individuals in 2008, and in 2010 over 90% of the population was covered. In 2012, only about 4% were uninsured.

Rwanda follows a universal health care model, which provides health insurance through a system called Mutuelles de Santé, the system is a community-based health insurance scheme, in which residents of a particular area pay premiums into a local health fund, and can draw from it when in need of medical care.

Premiums are paid according to a sliding scale; with the poorest members of society entitled to use the service for free, while the wealthiest pay the highest premiums and must partially pay for their care.

In 2012, about 45% of the system was funded by premium payments, with the rest coming from government funding and international donors.

According to statistics from Rwanda Social Security Board (RSSB)58.6% of Rwandans (4,143,108 people) have already subscribed to community-based health insurance (CBHI, or mutuelle) for the fiscal year 2016-2017 that starts in July.

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