Universal healthcare tops this years Annual Board of Health Funders Southern Africa conference

Author: Lahja Nashuuta

The Board of Health Funders (BHF) of Southern Africa will convene in Cape Town, South Africa, for their annual conference next month from 16 to 19 July.

The 18th Annual Board of Health Funders Conference seeks to explore new territories and identify areas in which private healthcare sector can become involved in the implementation of universal health coverage.

BHF Southern Africa is a representative body of the healthcare funding industry. Its members include medical schemes, administrators and managed care organisations throughout the Southern African region, with membership in South Africa, Lesotho, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Botswana, Mozambique and Swaziland.

According to a press statement released this week, the gathering will bring together healthcare experts and leaders from around the world who will share their country’s experiences and insights on universal healthcare coverage as countries embark on the journey toward the implementation of universal health coverage which is all about the availability of quality, affordable health services for all when needed without financial impoverishment.

Among the key issues to be discussed at the conference will be defining the role of the private sector in implementing the National Health Insurance, and why the private healthcare sector needs to evolve.

Quoted ahead of BHF Southern Africa Conference, Zola Mtshiya of BHF Southern Africa said, “As with any change, the journey towards universal healthcare will present new challenges.

However, the promise of partnership, political will and good leadership might make the journey ahead a lot easier than we have all imagined.

Partnering towards universal healthcare seems the most prudent move to ensure our industry participates fully in this development.”

He further said: “While government takes the lead, the value and contributions that the private industry can bring to the process is recognised throughout the world, and its expertise, infrastructure, experience, and capabilities will help deliver on the promise to ‘leave no one behind’.”

Mtshiya said “It is therefore important that all healthcare players begin to look beyond fear and limitation, and look into the future, ready to embrace the opportunities that lie ahead.

Due to recent developments in South Africa’s economy, the conference will also look at the implications of junk status for the healthcare industry.

Among the speakers will be Dr Elizabeth Fowler, Vice President for Global Health Policy at Johnson & Johnson, who is credited as the architect of Obamacare in the USA.

Flower will share her insights and learnings from her experiences as the USA Special Assistant to former US President Barack Obama on Healthcare and Economic Policy at the National Economic Council.

She spearheaded the implementation of the March 2010 Affordable Care Act (popularly known as Obamacare), which was designed to increase the quality and affordability of health insurance in America.

Case studies on country experiences will be presented by speakers from the USA, Kenya, Ghana, and Croatia.

Among speakers will also be Dr Amit Thakker, Chairman of the Africa Healthcare Federation, from Kenya; Nathaniel Otoo, former CEO of National Health Insurance Authority in Ghana; Dr Thato Moumakwa, Principal Officer, Botwana Pula Medical Aid Fund; Dr Tihomir Strizrep, former managing director of Croatia’s National Health Insurance Fund.

While Dr Niti Pall, the medical director at KPMG Global Healthcare Practice in the United Kingdom are also expected to their country’s experiences and insights on universal healthcare coverage. This year’s conference to be held under the theme Private Sector Embracing Universal Healthcare will also serve as an opportunity for other SADC countries to explore how they can start preparing to implement the National Health Insurance.

Source: The Southern Africa