Representing different regions of the continent, the parliamentarians present at the 2019 Africa Heath Agenda International conference in Kigali, came out with some commitments to accelerate universal health coverage.
Kigali-Rwanda March 4 to 7, 2019. Delegates of the Africa Parliamentary forum on population and development have been shaping initiatives that will help reinforce parliamentary advocacy, with the goal of accelerating progress to achieve universal health coverage (UHC) and make health for all a reality.
The parliamentarians in a final release outlined a series of commitments and have appealed to governments to take into account their recommendations. In their final communiqué, they have reiterated; the urgency of addressing primary health care in its multiple contexts and advocate for universal access to an integrated package of sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) interventions as part of UHC policies and schemes.
“We support the provision of comprehensive sexual and reproductive health services that benefit women and adolescents, and safeguard the health of their children and societies at large. It is both inexpensive and cost-effective, and it meets critical needs of a large portion of the population while helping governments make progress toward sustainable development goals (SDG) targets related to universal access to contraceptives and universal health coverage and Agenda 2063 that envisages a people-centered sustainable development agenda.”
On March 7, 2019, they had a media briefing session during which they explained their stand and the various projects carried-out at the level of their parliaments. The media session organized by the European Parliamentary forum (EPF) focused on “making universal health coverage a political priority”.
Honorable Robert Kuganab Lem from Ghana while having the floor said the government of Ghana has always supported the issue of bringing health to the doorsteps of people. They hold committees where the minister of health is summoned to provide information on what has been done so far in terms of projects undertaken to achieve UHC and on the loans borrowed by the government in order to provide health infrastructures.
He said: “The government has a budget personally directed to all parliamentarians, to help assist their communities in terms of improving health care delivery. Filing in the gaps where government is not able to fill in the immediate needs of people. We are with the people all the time; we listen to the people all the time. We get the government informed on our activities and most critical is the collaboration we have with the media.”
Female parliamentarians from Rwanda and Senegal, during the exchange with journalists have expressed their determination to follow-up each, in their countries, the implementation of this declaration. Honorable Juliette Paule Zingan from Senegal said governments have to be held accountable. They have taken several engagements which need to be fulfilled for the wellbeing of people. Policies and reforms linked to UHC should be renewed. “Budgets should be reviewed. Much is needed in terms of health policies and the funds allocated to the ministry of health are often insufficient.”
Marcelline Basigayabo and Therese Bashagara Katigotire, members of parliament from Rwanda, have urged governments and civil society organizations to put at the forefront community health workers and young people, being major key players in achieving UHC by 2030.
The members of parliament have reiterated their commitments to: leave no one behind; review and strengthen the health systems; initiate dialogue to resolve current gaps; strive for a comprehensive and coherent approach; support community health; accelerate continued advocacy for gender equality; keep universal access to immunization just to name these few.
Recognizing that UHC is a strategic necessity to building healthier societies and that parliamentarians have a key role to play in positioning and promoting health and health equity through their representative, legislative and oversight roles, the delegates of the Africa Parliamentary forum on population and development, closed the briefing session on a hopeful and positive note.
By Elise Kenimbeni