The experience of many industrialized countries shows that social health protection services can raise enough funds to achieve universal access, while protecting individuals against the risk of high health-care costs in case of sickness.
Owing to this, social health insurance scheme has become a priority for many countries and it is accepted as a means to lessen the financial burden of citizens, improve their health conditions and ensure that all citizens have access to improved health services.
In fact, the availabilities of strong health service facilities and effective service provision shows the socio-economic development of a given country. Thus, countries tend to invest more on availing different quality health services to citizens parallel with building the economic power. The government allocates huge budget for expanding health coverage and ensure societal health aimed at improving the mental and physical competitiveness of the society by nurturing a healthy generations.
Taking this into consideration, since the past few years Ethiopia has been working to ensure Community-Based Health Insurance service across the country to enable communities have access to the health services they need regardless of financial constraints thereby realize the goal of Universal Health Coverage for all. In turn, even though it is not at the desired level, some encouraging moves are witnessed.
For instance, in the Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples’ State, more than 5.5 million people are benefiting from community based health insurance schemes.
Speaking at the Community-Based Health Insurance Regional Movement forum held recently at Arba Minch Town, Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples’ State (SNNPS) Social Cluster Coordinator and Head of the Regional Education Bureau Dilamo Otore (PhD) said that Community-Based Health Insurance since it has been launched as pilot project in the three woredas of the State in 2011, communities’ participation and interest for the scheme has been increasing.
According to him, the Community-Based Health Insurance scheme ensures the health of the community by minimizing the unforeseen costs of treatment with a small down payment.
The efforts made to increase the membership of the society in the scheme are encouraging. He said, adding that however, it is not possible to say that it has reached at the desired level in terms of the goal set by the State. Out of the 152 woredas in the State, 136 woredas have started providing services to their members.
He further said that more than 5.5 million people in the State have benefited from the health insurance program.
According to information obtained from the State’s Communication Bureau, it is possible to increase the internal revenue of health facilities through collecting over 238 million Birr.
In related development, Haramaya University has recently provided health insurance service support to Harari State that benefits more than 3,500 households.
The University has donated two million Birr that will cover the cost of community health insurance service of 3,500 households in Harari State for one year.
During the handover ceremony, Chief Administrator of Harari State Ordin Bedri, said that the University’s support is fundamental to ensure the social and economic benefit of thousands of lives in the area.
As to him, the on-going activity being carried out to protect the health of the community under the Community-Based Health Insurance scheme is encouraging. Mentioning that Haramaya University is undertaking numerous activities to improve the health service of the community, the Chief Administrator said that the University deserves appreciation for its added support in various areas.
Deputy Chief of the State and Chairperson of the State’s Community Health Insurance Board Misra Abdalla, for her part said that effective activities have been carried out in the Harari State to benefit the people in Community-Based Health Insurance scheme. She also said that there is a growing culture of support for the vulnerable groups through the health insurance program.
The health insurance service will save the community from emergency expenses and enable them to get better health care services. The two million Birr donation made by the University would benefit the poorest segments of the society, she added.
Haramaya University President Dr. Jamal Yusuf on his part said that the University will continue undertaking activities that would benefit the people of Ethiopia who are residing in the eastern part of the country. The University will continue carrying out research-based activities focusing on in the health, tourism, agriculture and environmental sectors of the State, he added.
Harari State Health Bureau Head Dr. Ibsa Musa also extended his appreciations for the University for its commendable act; and support to the community. The support will cover the health insurance service of more than 3,500 households for one year, he repeated.
Accordingly, the Ethiopian government has been taking various measures to increase public mobilization and awareness towards health insurance coverage membership in the past few years. Currently, most citizens across the country are aware of the importance of being health insurance member. People in the remote areas of the country are showing willingness to become member of health insurance services.
Indisputably, health care coverage is imperative for all, regardless of employment status and social background. Achieving both national and universal healthcare protection coverage is possible where everyone takes part in the initiatives towards expanding access to health insurance services starting from each kebele.
According to WHO’s report, worldwide about 1.3 billion people are unable to access effective and affordable health care when they need it, while 170 million people are forced to spend more than 40% of their household income on medical treatment.
BY TEWODROS KASSA
FRIDAY 28 JANUARY 2022