Health experts and stakeholders met in Kigali yesterday where they discussed how best to bring the private sector into the delivery of universal health care in Africa.
The discussions were part of the inaugural African Health Forum of the World Health Organisation, which concluded yesterday.
Adesimbo Ukiri, chief executive of Avon Healthcare Limited, a health insurance company in Nigeria, argued that with the right regulatory framework, private players would join.
“In Nigeria, health insurance is not compulsory. So just putting legislation in place that makes health insurance compulsory will be a great deal to unlock all the potential and opportunities that are there for the private sector,” he said.
Dr Solange Hakiba, a deputy director at Rwanda Social Security Board, said their experience working with the private sector in Rwanda as RSSB has been tremendous.
“We have been able to contract different private entities like labs to deliver services. The Government is in charge of putting in place healthcare facilities but, in reality, that is not practical and gaps have been identified across the country, so the private sector comes in and fills those gaps,” Dr Hakiba said.
Prof. Francis Omaswa, the executive director of African Centre for Global Health and Social Transformation, said the private sector should be part of the national health system with clearly defined roles if the partnership is to be sustainable.
“Talking of community health workers, they are an important part of the health care system but let us not present them as the magic bullet. I have seen health workers perform beyond their competences, make mistakes, and become unpopular,” he said.
Dr Jose Jithu, the general manager of Apollo Hospitals India, preffered a solution that is technology-oriented.
Dr Motshidiso Moeti, the WHO regional director for Africa, said there is still more work to be done if they were to come up with a perfect model that involves private players.