Executive Director of UK’s Oxfam International Mrs. Winnie Byanyima has heaped praises to neighboring Rwanda’s universal health care system, which has been graded by experts amongst world’s best.
Mrs. Byanyima said Rwanda’s Health Insurance scheme which has ensured access to quality health care to all Rwandans, as one of the success stories of the poor nation which was in ashes about 20 years ago.
“This poor country, one of the poorest on this continent and in the whole world, has been investing almost 20% of its budget in health,” she said.
“It has created an insurance system that ensures that every Rwandan starting from the highest paid in government, right down to the poorest with no job can get health care that is free and of good quality at the point of delivery.”
Byanyima was speaking to a South African radio on Wednesday at the sidelines of this year’s World Economic Forum in Rwanda’s Capital Kigali, where she was one of the panelists.
Rwanda’s Community-Based Health Insurance system was piloted back in 1999 and rolled out countrywide in 2005. Its impact has been dubbed a “miracle” by experts in western nations.
The system has since seen infant mortality in the country drop by more than half; it has eliminated a number of epidemics including malaria and increased Rwanda’s life expectancy from 48 years to 61 as of World Bank’s May 2016 Development Indicators report.
Byanyima observed, “Everyone (in Rwanda) pays something for the insurance and this money helps the people who are not very wealthy, by covering them so that they get free health care. This system has ensured that they have reduced maternal mortality and child mortality rates, I think they have completely eradicated malaria.”
Back in her home country, the Oxfam International boss remarked that story is much different.
“Right across the border in Uganda, a country with double the GDP, the mortality rate is much higher than Rwanda’s; malaria is still rampant there, killing people particularly pregnant women and this is not a problem here in Rwanda a poor country,” she said.
Uganda about 13 years ago assayed to follow in Rwanda’s footsteps by introducing a compulsory public Social Health Insurance (SHI) but the program has failed to take off.
The Health Ministry had promised that the program would be launched last year and that government was in the final stages of drafting the law.
Under the National Health Insurance Bill 2007, which is still with the Ministry of Finance awaiting issuance of a certificate of financial implication, civil servants and formally employed Ugandans will be required to make mandatory contributions to a National Social Health Insurance (SHI) Scheme.
If, or when, the law is passed, an independent administrative body will be set up with a mandate to collect SHI contributions. Those already privately insured will either choose to be insured twice, or abandon private insurance since SHI will be mandatory.