The Government of Uganda has been planning to introduce a national health insurance scheme (NHIS) for some time. In April 2017, a Certificate of Financial Implications was issued, clearing the way for the Ministry of Health to present the NHIS Bill to Parliament for passing into law. The draft bill of 2014 provides for: 1) Social health insurance (SHI); (2) Community health insurance (CHI); and (3) Private commercial health insurance (PCHI). Currently, health insurance coverage in Uganda is estimated to be around 1.5% of the entire population. Of the 1.5%, about 150,000 people are covered by the existing 23 community health insurance (CHI) schemes. CHI schemes were first introduced in Uganda in 1996 and are operating in 15 districts. Under the proposed NHIS, CHI is envisaged to cover most of the informal sector which constitutes more than 80% of the country’s working population.
The first national CHF conference was organized and hosted by Save for Health Uganda (SHU) in partnership with Bread for the World (BftW) Germany, the Ministry of Health (MoH), and the Uganda Community Based Health Financing Association (UCBHFA) on 1st - 2nd December, 2016, under the theme, Advancing Community Health Financing in achieving Universal Health Coverage (UHC) in Uganda. It brought together 110 participants from Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania Rwanda, and Germany.
The young graduates who comprised the local staff of CIDR were convinced that the CHF approach could work and had the vision to see it grow. The staff were moved by the suffering of people who were facing hardships raising money to pay health care bills. The local staff team negotiated with CIDR to continue with the project but under new management, hence SHU was born in 2002 and officially registered in March 2003.
The 2nd National Community Health Financing conference
This year’s conference aims to build on the achievements of the first conference which aimed and successfully brought to the limelight the community health financing (CHF) schemes which include the community health insurance (CHI) schemes that have been operating in Uganda since 1996, the savings schemes for health care, and the maternal and child health voucher schemes. The conference also explored and clearly showed how the CHF initiatives are playing a significant role in preparing the population for the proposed NHIS and the roles these schemes shall play in the actual implementation of the NHIS.
1. Objectives of the Conference
The aim of the 2nd Conference is to mobilize support for CHF initiatives to enhance their capacity, and contribute to achieving a fair national health insurance scheme (NHIS) for Uganda. The specific objectives are:
1. To assess the nature of the informal sector in Uganda with a specific focus on capacity to contribute for the NHIS.
2. To review access to health insurance by the informal sector and disadvantaged groups in Uganda.
3. To present and discuss the current status of the NHIS and the implementation framework.
4. To assess how inclusiveness can be promoted in the proposed implementation framework of the NHIS
Participants and structure for the conference
The Conference is targeting 200 participants including policy makers, development partners, central and local government leaders, CHF schemes promoters, community health insurance beneficiaries, academia, private companies, healthcare providers, civil society and the general public.
The conference will comprise of keynote speeches, panel discussions, presentations, plenary discussions, and exhibitions by CHI schemes and organizations involved in health financing and promotion for UHC.
The conference is expected to provide information and experiences to policy makers useful for improving the NHIS Bill and passing it into law. The information and experiences will also be useful in developing the NHIS implementation guidelines. The awareness and recognition of the existing CHF initiatives and their potential to contribute towards realising national plans for middle income status, NHIS and UHC shall increase.