On July 23-25, representatives from both the public and private sectors came together for the sixth East Africa Healthcare Federation Conference in Dar es Salaam. The conference focused on identifying challenges related to policy and access to finance, solutions for addressing them, and a vision for private health care across the region. During the conference, SHOPS Plus staff served as panelists in sessions discussing digital technologies and innovations, and health care financing for universal health coverage.
In his remarks, H.E. Dr. Jakaya Kikwete, former president of Tanzania, who served as guest of honor for the event, shared his thoughts on the importance of quality health care:
“Health is directly linked to development. Life expectancy is often used as an indicator of development as well. We need to get our health right to improve our wellbeing as a people.” — H.E. Dr. Jakaya Kikwete, former president of Tanzania
SHOPS Plus organized a session on innovative health care financing and impact investment. Dr. Jeffrey M. Blander, chief innovation officer for the US Office of The Global AIDS Coordinator and Health Diplomacy, facilitated the discussion with Maureen Ogada-Ndekana, SHOPS Plus chief of party in Tanzania. This session highlighted that health care can shift from donor/government-only funding models to impact investment models where targeted investment can lead to the sustainable delivery of health care. Other panelists included Mbogo Bunyi, SHOPS Plus technical advisor; Jubilee insurance, a provider of community health insurance in Tanzania; Vodacom Tanzania, a commercial telecommunications company that offers mobile financial payment solutions for health; and Edgepoint Digital, a financial technology company using a digital platform to reduce administration costs to enable insurers to offer microinsurance products to poorer clients.
During the keynote address, Dr. Kimuu of the Kenyan Ministry of Health highlighted the importance of public-private engagement:
A mix of public and private financing and provision will work best to help East African countries get closer to UHC [universal health coverage]. The private sector can offer solutions in health information systems, training, technology, and products, amongst many others.” — Dr. Kimuu, Ministry of Health, Kenya
Conference participants hailed from country health care federations, NGOs, and other health institutions in Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya, South Sudan, Tanzania, and Uganda. Other session highlights include:
- Financing investments in health care: Speakers shared insights on increasing private provider access to finance, as more lenders have opened up and developed products for health care businesses to access credit.
- Digital technologies and innovations: Panelists shared technologies on collecting, pooling, and purchasing health care services and products. The benefits of organizing through digital platforms emerged as a common theme.
- East African health care: Representatives from participating countries’ ministries of health and health care federations offered their perspectives on learning from common challenges and building to an aligned health care environment for the region. Panelists and participants discussed the size of the health care market in the region as an opportunity for leveraging resources. To do so, the region needs to align its laws to fully tap into the common market.
In support of the theme of the conference, SHOPS Plus is increasing availability of priority health products and services through the strategic expansion of private sector in Tanzania. The project also provides technical assistance to support USAID’s Sustainable Finance Initiative in Tanzania with the goal of delivering an AIDS-free generation with shared financial responsibility from host countries, including governments and the private sector.