Africa promises to accelerate progress toward UHC as Kigali meeting ends

Countries in Africa have committed to strengthen their health systems and address health inequities.

In a communiqué, they also pledged to support community health and ensure universal access to immunisation to drive progress on Universal Health Coverage in their countries.

The communiqué was released at the end of the three-day Africa Health Agenda International Conference, co-hosted by Rwanda’s Ministry of Health and Amref Health Africa in Kigali.

“We are delighted at the diverse participation of leaders from across sectors and are thankful for their contributions to improving health care in Africa. The conference communiqué, released today, calls for increased political commitment to financing UHC, an investment in Africa’s future health workforce, and accountability and inclusion mechanisms allowing people to make their voices heard,” said Dr Githinji Gitahi, Group CEO, Amref Health Africa.

In the declaration, African health leaders called for an increase in domestic financing and greater political prioritisation for evidence-based, cost-effective solutions that would expand access to quality health services and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.

Eleven parliamentarians from Ghana, Kenya, Rwanda, Senegal, Tanzania and Zambia also launched the ‘Kigali UHC communiqué’,

The conference brought together over 1,500 participants, including health ministers, private sector and civil society leaders, representatives from multilateral organisations, media and vital voices from 49 countries.

Kigali mayor Marie-Chantal Rwakazina called for prioritising women’s health in plans for UHC across Africa.

“Gender inequality denies women and girls much-needed access to health services. When we developed Rwanda’s Universal Health Coverage (UHC) framework, we were mindful of creating gender-centric policies that address barriers in women’s right to health care,” said Rwakazina.

The closing plenary also saw the official launch of the Women in Global Health Africa Regional Hub, a platform that aims to bring gender equality to global health leadership.

On the first day of the conference, President Paul Kagame received the “UHC Presidential Champion” award for his relentless political leadership and accountability to advance UHC in Rwanda, and serving as an example for the region.

In the past few years, Rwanda has significantly improved its focus on health care and managed to bring 90% of its population under the popular community-based insurance scheme. “Thank you Amref Health Africa for this recognition, on my behalf and on behalf of the people of Rwanda. We owe this progress to partners like you who have joined forces with us in our journey to deliver a dignified and healthy life for all Rwandans,” said President Kagame.

Health ministers from Rwanda, Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda also shared their countries’ progress on UHC at the meeting and reaffirmed commitment to achieve UHC by 2030, in line with the Sustainable Development Goals.

This article first appeared on The Star