EAC Health Ministers Agree Pact on Universal Health Coverage
Kigali March 12th - Ministers of Health of the EAC member states agreed on Wednesday to establish a Social Health Protection (SHP) body as a first step towards rolling out Universal Health Coverage (UHC) for the population of the region.
The agreement was reached after a two-day regional summit on Social Health Protection that focused on sharing experiences and implementing reforms with an aim of extending health coverage within the East African Community.
At the end of the summit, the Ministers unanimously agreed to support the establishment of a regional committee or body on Social Health Protection (SPH) for guiding the strategy, implementation and collaboration among EAC member states.
Once in place, this body would be charged with promoting best practices aimed at universal health coverage across the region
and defining a framework for the long-term harmonization of social health protection mechanisms across the EAC.
“We will build on our regional differences and make social health protection and universal health coverage a reality in our region,” Dr. Agnes Binagwaho, Minister of Health of Rwanda told the summit.
Within the broader framework of national policies and programs, the Ministers agreed to develop a regular forum to share best practices focusing on effective governance and stewardship as they seek to make UHC a reality.
They also pledged to support cross-regional studies to explore harmonization of social health protection policies, including an advocacy strategy and networking among private and public sector stakeholders.
“We recommend to develop short and medium term regional Health Financing Strategy for achieving universal health coverage in the EAC, specifically addressing the coordination of activities among the member states,” the statement endorsed by Ministers stated.
The Ministers also proposed a joint meeting between the ministries having health and commerce in their portfolios to promote synergies in the production of medicines and medical products among member states.
The summit was attended by Ministers in charge of Health from all EAC Member States as well as members of civil society and development partners.
The recommendations of the summit were forwarded to the Secretary General of EAC for effective follow-up and implementation.