Cameroon: Subscribing to Health Insurance Ensures Health and Wellbeing – Experts say at Nkafu Webinar

By Boris Esono Nwenfor

Out-of-pocket payments for health care contributes to deepen social inequalities, while exposing populations to poor quality health care services

BUEA, March 3 – According to the World Health Organization, WHO, health financing is a core function of health systems that can enable progress towards universal health coverage by improving effective service coverage and financial protection. Today, millions of people do not access services due to the cost. Many others receive poor quality services even when they pay out-of-pocket

How do public health settings in Cameroon currently contribute to reducing out-of-pocket health expenditures? What are the challenges and what are the perspectives to improve their contributions to the reduction of out-of-pocket health care financing? Those are some questions that were addressed during a webinar organized by the Health Research Division of the Nkafu Policy Institute, a think tank of the Denis and Lenora Foretia Foundation, on February 24, 2023.

The question of health care financing is a crucial concern in every health system in the current context of the global rise in health spending, especially in developing countries where out-of-pocket expenditures are the main way of financing health care services.

“Health insurance schemes should be favour and inclusive. These schemes should take into consideration, low-income earners. especially those in local areas – Dr Hamida Yacoubou`, Senior public health Officer, at the Ministry of Public Health in Cameroon said.

Dr Promise Aseh Munteh, Health Coordinator, at Catholic Health Services said: “The government needs to add a strong voice to that of Private Health Insurance operators to educate and engage the public to subscribe to the available health insurance schemes.”

Out-of-pocket payments for health care contribute to deepening social inequalities while exposing populations to poor quality healthcare services and financial catastrophes related to the cost of health spending. Among the public health strategies to reduce out-of-pocket healthcare financing are public funding, private health insurance, social solidarity and enhancement of health infrastructures quality and capacity.

The webinar brought together the ministry of public health representatives, health economists, health care providers, health researchers, civil society organizations, health equity advocates, and policy makers, amongst others.

Carefully designed and implemented health financing policies can help to address these issues. “We need to encourage local production of medication and medical equipment to reduce the high cost of importation which has so far contributed to crippling our economy,” Herve Nicano, an Economist said.

The need for a robust health financing system is crucial in sub-Saharan Africa, a region that accounts for a disproportionate share of the global disease burden but allocates the least amount of resources to healthcare Health spending per capita in Africa.  Generally, health financing systems in sub-Saharan Africa are characterized by low government spending, under-developed insurance schemes, high out-of-pocket payments, and high dependence on external (donor) funding

“The public needs to know that subscribing to Health Insurance is a means of ensuring the health and well-being of the entire community, so they don’t have to unsubscribe because they have not made use of the past subscription – Dr Joseph Chenjoh, Associate Specialist Health Financing at the Global Fund, Geneva said.

“The public needs to understand what they stand to benefit from subscribing or what they will lose from not subscribing to health insurance. This will act as a motivation for them,” said Dr Kinga Bertila, consultant/researcher, Health Economics/Human Development Specialist, World Bank group.

Despite continued global agreement on the need for strengthening national health financing systems to develop sustainable and comprehensive policies, health financing, depends on out-of-pocket payments. Access to quality health services, whether preventative or curative, remains a prerequisite for a population to attain health and achieve healthy lifestyles.

Health insurance schemes should be favored and inclusive, Dr Hamida Yacoubou said

About the Nkafu Policy Institute

The Nkafu Policy Institute is a nonpartisan, independent think tank at the Denis & Lenora Foretia Foundation in Yaoundé, Cameroon. Its mission is to provide independent, in-depth and insightful policy recommendations that advance the Cameroonian economy and the economies of other sub-Saharan African countries. Nkafu seeks to advance public policies that help all Africans prosper in free, fair, and sustainable economies. Its reputation is founded on its independence, high-quality research and innovative policy prescriptions.




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