The World Health Organization hosts a briefing meeting on health financing and universal health coverage

On the 12th February 2014, the WHO Country Office hosted a briefing session on health financing and universal health coverage. The meeting held in Dar es Salaam and officiated by the Deputy Minister of Health and Social Welfare, Hon. Dr. Kebwe Steven Kebwe, gathered senior officials from the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare (MOHSW), development partners, representatives from NGOs and CSOs and other health stakeholders.

Others present in the session include the World Health Organization Representative for Tanzania, Dr. Rufaro Chatora and the WHO Director for Health Systems Financing and Governance, Dr. David Evans.

In his key note address, the Deputy Minister for Health highlighted country efforts towards increasing access to health services for all its population including:

  • The expansion of public health services in rural areas from the 1960’s to date
  • The introduction of free essential health services at the point of delivery
  • Introduction of cost-sharing in government health facilities with safety nets for the poor
  • Development of the Primary Health Care Development Programme
  • The on-going development of the health financing strategy
  • Adoption of United Nations General Assembly resolution supporting universal health coverage
  • Strengthening good governance from the facility level through the health facility governing committees and council health boards to ensure accountability of result and resources
  • Measures to ensure supplies and essential drugs are available together with increased availability of skilled staff at the health facilities

He concluded by expressing appreciation to the World Health Organization (WHO) for organizing the meeting so timely, as the health sector prepares to contribute towards the post-2015 health agenda.

The WHO Director for Health Systems Financing and Governance, Dr. David Evans made an elaborate presentation on the subject covering important themes including:

  • The three fundamental principles of Universal Health Coverage including: Raising funds, Pooling and Purchasing
  • The journey towards Universal Health Coverage
  • Hot issues in SSA related to Health Financing
  • Leadership and Governance for Health Financing
  • Measuring Progress towards Universal Health Coverage

Discussions following the presentation expressed strong support for the principles underlying universal health coverage: that everyone, irrespective of their ability to pay, should have access to the health services they need, without putting their families at financial risk. Participants stressed the importance of continuing the consultative process towards consolidation of indicators for tracking progress towards universal health coverage in a way that explicitly captures the potential importance of universal health coverage in achieving better health for everyone. The need for the health sector to engage the non-health sectors including the Ministry of Finance in the health financing dialogues and prepare for the post-2015 agenda was also discussed.

In his closing remarks, the WHO Representative, Dr. Rufaro Chatora, highlighted the key issues that came out of the discussions. He underlined the changing global view towards the emphasis and protection put around health sector over other equally important sectors. He further urged the Ministry of Health to reflect on the common causes of inefficiencies identified for the health sector, the prominent governance issues and reflect them in the national health financing strategy and the Health Sector Strategic Plan IV (HSSP IV) under development.