Successful conference on health insurance in Africa
On 8-9 May, the Hygeia Community Health Plan organized a two day international conference on health insurance in Africa. The conference took place in Abuja, Nigeria and aimed to promote community based health insurance models for low income groups in Africa. The conference specially focused on the current pilot insurance program in Shonga, Kwara State.
Among the conference speakers were the Executive Governor of Kwara State Dr. Bukola Saraki, the Emir of the Shonga Community, the Dutch Ambassador to Nigeria Mr. van der Wiel, Chris van der Vorm on behalf of the Health Insurance Fund and Dr. Michèle van Vugt on behalf of PharmAccess Foundation. In his keynote speech the Governor of Kwara State shared his enthusiasm about the health insurance program: “…What happened in Shonga, the dramatic turn-around in the fortune of the hitherto moribund health centre, the overwhelming subscription and patronage by the local community, and growing demand by the people for us to take this to other parts of our State, is not so much a miracle to me, but an eye opener; and an important lesson in public policy governance. […] I have no doubt in my mind that this is the way to go.”
The number of participants was above expectation. More than 250 people from various sections of the health community attended the conference, including officials of the Nigerian government, community and religious leaders, medical directors of healthcare providers, professionals from the public health community and invited experts from Nigeria, Uganda, The Netherlands and the United States.
The first conference day was dedicated to lectures and discussions on scaling up, financing strategies and quality management of health insurance schemes. The discussions were open and sometimes even heated, and led to valuable insights and recommendations.
On the second day, a selection of the participants travelled to meet the Emir of Shonga, visit the upgraded clinic and speak with the beneficiaries of the Hygeia Community Health Plan.
Visit to the Emir of Shonga
The conference in Abuja was sponsored by the Health Insurance Fund, with additional support from the International Finance Corporation, the Nigerian National Health Insurance Scheme and the Kwara State government of Nigeria.