World Aids Day workshop: how to reverse the severe under funding?
(photo Annemarijne Bax & Adriaan Backer)
The PharmAccess workshop hosted on World Aids Day at the 12th National Congres Soa*Hiv*Aids in Amsterdam was, according to one member of the audience 'very interesting and new.' This was further underlined by the many questions asked during the closing debate.
Representatives of PharmAccess (the implementing partner), the Health Insurance Fund, the Medical Credit Fund (MCF) and the Investment Fund for Health in Africa (IFHA) presented ways how by using private partners an affordable and sustainable healthcare in Africa can be realized. Each organization works at a different level - patient, clinic and healthcare company – stimulating the demand and the supply side of the whole healthcare system.
Organizations complement each other
Together the presentations gave a good insight in how they complement each other. First Emma Coles, senior project manager of the Health Insurance Fund, demonstrated how investing in health insurances can really boost the demand side: 'At the end of 2006 Shonga Community Health Centre had less then twenty patient visits per month, that is less then one per day. And where are we now? Over a thousand visits a month.' Simultaneously the Health Insurance Fund invests in these clinics to support the supply side.
But also the Medical Credit Fund, at a broader scale, lends the clinics a helping hand. Tobias Rinke de Wit, of PharmAccess, explained how the Medical Credit Fund has the objective to provide affordable financing for these clinics. By mediating between banks and clinics, these clinics can get access to credit under normal interest conditions. 'Now often they have to pay 20 percent interest for these loans.'
And last on an even larger scale, Jasper Bos, associate of the IFHA, described how the IFHA is investing in small to medium sized privately owned healthcare companies. He gave the example of the private pharmacy distributor Pyramid Pharma in Nigeria. By investing in this company it can grow into a national distributor, becoming an important actor in distributing the much needed medicines.
Presentation by Karel Peter Kompanje
Furthermore, Karel Peter Kompanje, lecturer on the history of health insurances at the Vrije Universiteit (VU) in Amsterdam, held a presentation on what insights the Dutch healthcare system before 1941, when no public system existed, can give for the situation in Africa. He didn’t compare the systems as much; foremost he explained how four out of the six million Dutch at that time had at some point a private health insurance. Thus, stressing the possibilities of private health insurances.
The 12th National Conference was, according to the organizing committee, with over a thousand visitors altogether an overwhelming success. As said, also this new paradigm presented by the organizations was received well and led to some interesting questions by the audience. For example, someone wanted to know what comes first: supply or demand. Or as he said it: 'Is it a chicken and the egg discussion?' Coles acknowledged this but explained that both demand as well as supply needs to reach a certain level to get the system rolling. So in a way it is the chicken and the egg at the same time.