New Health insurance fund for Africa
On June 28 2006, the Dutch Minister of Development Cooperation, Mrs. Agnes van Ardenne, and the former CEO of AEGON, Kees Storm, chairman of the Health Insurance Fund (HIF), will launch a groundbreaking initiative for a new health insurance fund for Africa in the presence of the top of the Dutch business community. The HIF will introduce a new, innovative insurance fund for African countries that will enable low-income groups to receive collective health insurance through a premium subsidy. This insurance principle will make basic health care, including anti-AIDS medication, accessible to more people in Africa.
Care will be provided by both public and private care providers with whom the insurer will enter into care contracts. The care providers will be paid based on their performance. The execution of this insurance principle will be the central issue and will thus contribute to a more effective healthcare system in Africa. The available physicians, nurses and care centers can be better utilized and the quality of care will improve.
During a meeting in Amsterdam today of The Large Enterprise (De Grote Onderneming (DGO)), a collaboration of the top of the Dutch business community focused on the fight against HIV/AIDS, the Dutch Minister of Development Cooperation, Mrs. Agnes van Ardenne, and HIF chairman Kees Storm will symbolically sign a first insurance policy. Eventually, at least 230,000 people from low-income groups in Africa will be covered by basic health insurance, including anti-AIDS medication, through the Health Insurance Fund. People who, should they fall ill today, are unable to pay their GP br hospital bill. Thanks to a temporary subsidization of their insurance premium by the HIF they will be able to obtain health insurance. Minister van Ardenne will support the HIF with the amount of 100 million Euros for the next six years.
Prior to the UN meeting on the fight against poverty last year, Dutch ‘captains of industry’ of Heineken, Shell and Unilever, among others, met with Dutch Prime Minister Balkenende and Minister van Ardenne to discuss a joint approach concerning the increasing number of African people that die due to the lack of treatment for HIV/AIDS, Malaria and TB. The current capacity of African hospitals is absolutely insufficient. Expansion of the capacity, i.e. more clinics, more African physicians, and an efficient, sustainable organization of health care (including the already available capacity), is of crucial importance. ‘Far too many people still die unnecessarily every day of treatable and preventable diseases like HIV/AIDS, TB and Malaria. Thanks to this initiative many people in low-income groups can obtain basic health insurance. Thousands of lives can thus be saved. Lives of people that are needed to provide for their families and to develop their own country,’ says Minister van Ardenne.
Research by both the World Bank and the WHO has shown that the implementation of a health insurance fund is essential for a properly functioning healthcare system in Africa.
The HIF health insurance is intended for low-income groups such as women groups, farmer organizations, low-paid, uninsured workers, students, and people with a micro loan, among others. Accessible health care and proper treatment of ill employees will enable them to stay employed. This is one of the most important objectives of the new insurance fund. ‘A local economy can only continue to function if people are working and able to provide for themselves and their families,’ says HIF chairman Kees Storm.
Financing of the insurance fund will be realized through insurance premiums and donor subsidies. All those insured will make a contribution to their insurance premium depending on their income. Coverage is based on the solidarity principle, which will enable large groups in the community to profit from the expansion of the capacity. The insurance packages will always consist of a combination of basic health care, including HIV/AIDS, TB and Malaria treatment.
Distinguishing feature in this approach is the focus on the execution and realization of the projects. For this reason PharmAccess Foundation is involved. This organization has extensive experience in setting up and monitoring healthcare projects in Africa for employees of large multinationals and their relatives. In addition, PharmAccess executes programs in Africa that are financed by the Dutch Postcode Loterij/STOP AIDS NOW! and the Dutch and US governments. In addition to the HIF, the Dutch insurance companies Achmea, SNS Reaal and AEGON will support a private investment fund that will invest in local insurers and in organizations involved in the execution of the programs. This private investment fund and the HIF together are decisive for this new public-private approach.
The HIF will first execute its pioneering plans by setting up a number of pilot projects in Nigeria. In Lagos it will work with the association of local market women and with the ‘Lady Mechanics’, a group of female working mechanics. In the rural Kwara state it will focus on the farming community. Subsequently, the HIF wants to expand its projects to other Southern- and East-African countries.
For more information:
- Health Insurance Fund, Jacqueline van Tongeren, 06-51209900
- The Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Marie-Christine Lanser-Reusken, spokesperson for the Minister of Development Cooperation, 06-53180757