EAC members to adopt common healthcare system for the region

Friday September 21 2012

EAC Secretary General Dr Richard Sezibera.  Photo/File

EAC Secretary General Dr Richard Sezibera. Photo/File Nation Media Group

By RODRIGUE RWIRAHIRA Rwanda Today

The East African Community member states are working on a programme to promote a common healthcare system in the region.

The “Open Health Initiative” aims at harmonising the health care systems of member countries to promote universal access to health care services.

Speaking at a meeting held in Rwanda recently, EAC Secretary General Dr Richard Sezibera regretted limited access to health care services, saying the new initiative will solve the problem.

The member states also agreed to formulate a regional plan to tackle deadly diseases such as HIV/Aids, Avian Flu and Rift Valley Fever.

The plan, Dr Sezibera said, will involve coming up with a framework to promote best health care practices available.

Currently, the majority of East Africans lack access to quality health care.

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According to the Health Ministers, with the increased free movement of people in the EAC, it is necessary to provide quality and affordable health insurance.

“We will build on our regional differences and make social health protection and universal health coverage a reality in our region,” Dr Agnes Binagwaho, Rwanda’s Minister for Health told the summit.

Dr Binagwaho added that countries like Ghana and Ethiopia have already harmonised healthcare systems that the EAC can learn from.

“With a very good and common health care system, we can handle not only non-communicable diseases, but also chronic diseases like cancers, heart problems and others, we only need to agree on a viable and appropriate methods to mobilise resources,” Dr Binagwaho added.

Rwanda already has an insurance scheme, Common Health Insurance, that provides affordable health care coverage to the members of the public.

Countries like Nigeria and Uganda have showed interests in establishing a similar scheme.

The meeting also heard that Uganda is yet to establish a sustainable policy on health insurance to cover all its citizens.

According to Francis Runumi, the commissioner of planning at the Ugandan Health Ministry, the lack of proper policy makes the country suffer from high number of chronic diseases.

“The resource mobilisation should be clearly address provision of quality healthcare services to our citizens,” said Mr Runumi.

funding will be of importance,” said Runumi.