Digital conference to discuss critical health issues begins next week

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, a wide range of stakeholders from around the world will engage in a series of discussions on two of the leading concerns of the World Health Organisation and health professionals at the moment.

The issues are universal health coverage and the COVID-19 pandemic raging on across the world.

The forum is a collaboration between Focal Point Africa, AMREF Health Africa and the Public Health Foundation of India.

 Dr Robert Baba Kuganab-Lem, Ghana’s Deputy Ranking Member on the country’s Parliamentary Health Committee and Member of Parliament for the Binduri Constituency, is scheduled to speak at the digital conference which will incorporate thematic panel discussions and online workshops to be held from June 24 to August ending.

Dr Kuganab-Lem is one of Ghana’s and the world’s leading advocates of universal health coverage.

His research work and complimentary campaign for an accessible, affordable and quality health coverage in Ghana dates back to his tenure as Dean of the School of Allied Health Sciences at the University for Development Studies.

The theme for the forum is “Unlocking Private Enterprise for Public Good: Building Future Health Systems for Universal Health Coverage and Redesigning Health Systems during COVID-19 and beyond.”

A statement issued by the organisers quoted Dr Kuganab-Lem as saying that in trying to reform their health care systems, all countries must consider universal coverage a priority.

 The statement said he recently told Parliament that it was the right of every Ghanaian to have access to quality health services without any hindrances, irrespective of whether they are rich or poor, young or old or living in a rural or urban area.

As recently as 2015, the MP said, Ghana had achieved only a nationwide health coverage of 44 per cent in spite of the efforts of Ghana’s National Health Insurance Scheme which was established to make health care accessible and affordable for even the poor.

He said after a few years of implementation, public and external assistance to the scheme dwindled while private expenditure mostly in the form of out-of-pocket payments by the poor had tripled.

“The distribution of medical professionals in the health sector across the country is also so skewed in favour of urban areas when it comes to doctor-patient ratio, that many rural communities have no access to a doctor,” he said.

The series of workshops will enable participants to create together, an agenda for research and experimentation on how public and private actors can work better together to serve health outcomes in all countries.

Working together, the participants will produce pragmatic research evidence that will aim at generating evidence, unleash opportunities and mitigate risks related to private sector engagement in health care and delivery.

“Lessons to be learnt from the series are expected to help countries manage the health crisis, contribute to the strengthening of future health systems and achieve universal health coverage”, the statement said.

 “The collaborative forum will bring together a diverse group of health sector stakeholders including policy makers, government implementers of health policy, academia, civil society organisations, bi-laterals, multinationals, corporate organisations, managers of investment funds, entrepreneurs and innovators who are passionate about health sector reforms,” it said.

The stakeholder consultations to be engaged in according to the statement would result in the creation of a shared engagement plan on how to effectively engage the public and private sectors in re-designing and re-building health systems to achieve universal health coverage.

“The forum, designated as a mutual learning series, will also discuss how health systems research can help both governments and the private sector in all countries to build their health system capacities during the COVID-19 crises,” the statement said.


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