One of the hallmarks of post-Genocide Rwanda’s recovery process is the leadership’s conscious choice to turn to traditional and homegrown mechanisms to address some of the country’s most pressing challenges.
This policy has turned out to be a masterstroke, with the country increasingly getting recognised for its emphasis on innovative home-based solutions to improve people’s welfare and fast-track socioeconomic development.
Thanks to this approach, Rwanda has made significant gains in public health care, in large part owing to the Mutuelle de Santé initiative, a community based health insurance scheme that has brought medical services to the most disadvantaged members of society.
With over 85 per cent of Rwandans accessing healthcare through Mutuelle de Santé, Rwanda is one of the few countries around the world that seem to have found a way around the ever-growing cost of public healthcare to deliver on their commitments to universal health coverage.
But it has increasingly become clearer that the scheme would not be sustainable in the long term considering that a big number of subscribers are vulnerable citizens whose premiums are either fully or partially covered by government.
And so government has had the unenviable task of continuously coming up with strategies to keep the scheme afloat and effective, including the decision to move its management to Rwanda Social Security Board.
Nonetheless, the fact that more Rwandans now seek medical services than previously and the cost of healthcare continues to rise, there was need for an entirely new approach to make Mutuelle de Santé truly sustainable.
It is, therefore, commendable that government has taken steps to introduce new sources of funding for the scheme, including penalties on offences, such as on drug trafficking and abuse, traffic fines, gaming fees, among others.
With such open-minded and innovative approach, there is no doubt that the funding deficit and costly medical conditions that had threatened the future of the community-based health insurance will be catered for, thereby making the scheme more effective and truly universal.