Makerere university researchers emphasise the importance of trust in building the proposed insurance scheme
Accessing quality healthcare is a challenge for a huge percentage of Ugandans. In this light, the government of Uganda drafted the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) Bill. This bill is intended to facilitate the provision of accessible, affordable acceptable and quality healthcare services to citizens irrespective of their age, economic, health and social status. The bill is also intended to develop health insurance as a complementary mechanism of healthcare financing and ensure efficiency in healthcare services. The bill is in its formative stages and has been a subject of national discussion. It will soon be progressing to the parliamentary debate stage.
From this background, the SPEED project organised a lunch seminar for the experts to share views on the proposed bill and inform to inform the further discussions the project will have policymakers.
The Seminar was held at Makerere University School of Public Health seminar room and chaired by Prof. Freddie Ssengooba, Director SPEED project.
Prof. Freddie Ssengooba (first row, right) while chairing the NHIS seminar at MakSPH.
While presenting at the seminar a topic entitled “The current health financing structure of Uganda,” Mr. Chrispus Mayora, a Health Economist with the SPEED Project, and a faculty member of MakSPH, noted that funding for health is below average and more resources were needed if the country was to achieve the Universal Health Coverage (UHC).
Mr Chrispus Mayora presenting at the seminar
He noted that the World Health Organisation recommends a per capita public health expenditure of $86, Uganda’s per capita health expenditure is far below at $52.
“The NHIS is one approach to increase resources into the health sector, but it should not be looked at as the alpha and omega of all health financing challenges in Uganda.Even with insurance, government must continue to increase funding for health to cater for health systems strengthening, human resources, infrastructure, and other critical investment areas,” Mr Mayora explained further. He argued that there is need to leverage on community-based insurance and other SACCOs that already exist within communities to bring as many people on board to embrace NHIS.
In his conclusive remarks, Mayora advised Ministry of Health and all insurance stakeholders to build trust and provide enough information to the public about the scheme and packages being proposed to address unnecessary expectations.
In her presentation, Dr Elizabeth Ekirapa Kiracho stressed the importance of valuing insured persons. Dr Ekirapa is the Head of Department of Health Policy Planning and Management at MakSPH, a Senior lecturer and a Health Economist.
Dr Elizabeth Ekirapa Kiracho Presenting at the seminar
She noted that effective implementation of the scheme will require that clients’ needs and expectations are addressed. This implies that the scheme ha to recruit competent managers and have a transparent leadership that can settle disputes of clients and service providers.
Citing the current Ghanaian insurance system, Dr Ekirapa proposed for the introduction of a toll-free forum where aggrieved and unsatisfied clients can report their experiences.
Further Dr Ekirapa recommended for the creation of regional and local boards to monitor the operations of the scheme.
The participants, appreciated the initiative by the SPEED team to share with the insights in the bill. Many were concerned whether this will not be an additional tax on their incomes. They called for transparency in managing the finances that will be collected under this arrangement for improving the health status of the people.