“If year 2020 is set as a dateline many countries will work hard to implement it.”
Nigeria on Thursday proposed the year 2020 as target for African countries to work toward the attainment of the Universal Health Coverage, UHC, in the region.
The Minister of Health, Onyebuchi Chukwu, made this known at the first joint conference of AU Ministers of Health and World Health Organisation, WHO, in Luanda, Angola.
He said the target would facilitate countries’ efforts to put in place modalities toward the achievement of the UHC in the region.
“Setting the dateline is to encourage countries implement the UHC. If year 2020 is set as a dateline many countries will work hard to implement it.
“The 2020 dateline does not necessarily mean that countries will be compelled to achieve UHC, but it is to ensure that there is a timeframe which all countries must work toward implementing UHC.
“We cannot just work blindly without setting a target.
“The aim of the UHC is to ensure equal access to health care, breaking financial barrier and ensuring quality care,” he said.
He said Nigeria presidential summit on universal health coverage was a milestone for implementation of UHC in the country.
However, countries like Ghana and Rwanda opposed year 2020 proposed by Nigeria as the set target year for the attainment of the UHC, saying many African countries have their peculiar challenges.
They said that 2020 was too close for many African countries to attain the UHC.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that Namibia, Senegal and Republic of Congo accepted Nigeria’s proposal.
Luis Sambo, the African Regional Director of the WHO, said the interest exhibited at having a set target demonstrated commitment to achieve the UHC in African.
“I think a timeframe should be set so that countries will be in the process of achieving universal health coverage,’’ Mr. Sambo said.
However, Sambo said agreement must be reached on the dateline for countries to work toward.
He urged countries to strengthen the health care system and improve on skilled human resources to ensure quality health services.
The regional director said quality and affordability were necessary for universal health coverage.
Earlier, experts at the technical section of the meeting said the challenges countries faced in moving toward UHC, include insufficiency of sustainable political commitment and coherent health financing policies.
They recommended the implementation of monitoring and evaluation framework to measure progress toward UHC.
They also underscored the need to pay special attention to issues related to prevention, equity in access, quality of services, development of human resources for health and health system strengthening.