By MOSES CHIMFWEMBE –
AFRICAN governments have been implored to create gender-centric policies that address barriers in women’s right to health care.
And the continent’s parliamentarians are pressing for an increase in domestic financing and greater political prioritisation for evidence-based, cost-effective solutions that would expand access to quality health services and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.
Mayor of the City of Kigali Marie-Chantal Rwakazina has called for the need to prioritise women’s health in plans for Universal Health Coverage (UHC) across Africa.
“Gender inequality denies women and girls much-needed access to health services. When we developed Rwanda’s Universal Health Coverage framework, we were mindful of creating gender-centric policies that address barriers in women’s right to health care,” she said.
She said this during the closing ceremony of the Africa health Agenda International Conference (AHAIC) co-hosted by Rwanda’s Ministry of Health and Amref Health Africa in Kigali from March 5 to 7, 2019 and attracted delegates from various countries including Zambia.
The 3-day conference brought together 1,500 participants, including health ministers, private sector and civil society leaders, representatives from multilateral organisations, and the media among others to discuss the progress made toward UHC in Africa and accelerate indigenous solutions to address some of the continent’s greatest health challenges.
The AHAIC conference also gave birth to the Women in Global Health (WGH) Africa Regional Hub launched to drive greater gender equity in global health leadership in Africa.
Founded in 2015, WGH works with stakeholders from governments, civil society, academia, and the private sector, among others, to encourage women’s representation in diverse health leadership roles.
Meanwhile, 11 African parliamentarians who included Zambia’s Christopher Kalila, and his counterparts from Ghana, Kenya, Rwanda, Senegal, and Tanzania, launched the ‘Kigali Universal Health Care communiqué’.
The communiqué committing to strengthen health systems, address health inequities, support community health and ensure universal access to immunization to drive progress on UHC in their respective countries.
Amref Health Africa Group Chief Executive Officer Githinji Gitahi was delighted that the conference communiqué called for increased political commitment to financing UHC, an investment in Africa’s future health workforce, and accountability as well as inclusion of mechanisms that allow people to make their voices heard.
“We are delighted at the diverse participation of leaders from across sectors and are thankful for their contributions to improving health care in Africa,” Dr Gitahi said.
Amref Health Africa and Results for Development launched the Strategic Purchasing Africa Resource Center (SPARC) aimed at strengthening strategic purchasing capacity in Sub-Saharan Africa.
SPARC means deliberately deciding which health services and medicines to purchase, from which providers, and how to pay for them.
“For all people to have equitable access to affordable quality health services, a process for active decision-making about which services to purchase, from whom and how to go about paying for them in a cost-effective manner is critical,” said Nathaniel Otoo, the Executive Director of SPARC.