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Universal health coverage and the end of Africa’s boom

Published on 26 January 2017

IMF predictions of an economic downturn in many African resource-dependent countries appear to herald the end of Africa’s boom. A new IDS Rapid Response briefing examines what this means for universal health coverage in Africa and the ultimate aim of achieving the United Nations Global Goal 3.

The new briefing What Does the End of Africa’s Boom Mean for Universal Health Coverage? highlights the major challenges facing Africa, where economic downturn looms for resource dependent countries such as Mozambique and Guinea Bissau and countries such as Sierra Leone experience weakened health systems. The response to these challenges by governments and development partners, will have important effects on how well people, and the health services on which they rely, cope in the short term and longer-term evolution of health coverage.

Retrenchment and consolidation

The briefing authors, Giuliano Russo at Queen Mary, University of London and Gerald Bloom at IDS make recommendations to counterbalance the negative impact of the projected economic downturn on health and health systems in affected countries. They emphasise that as well as periods when services can be expanded and institutions developed, strategies for achieving universal health coverage should take into account periods of retrenchment, during which funds are scarcer, and efforts need to focus on consolidating gains from previous phases.

Recommendations

Recommendations for governments and donors include prioritising the establishment and protection of primary health-care services, strengthening basic public health and prevention as a cost-effective way to protect people from illness and phasing in health insurance pilots to ensure the scheme is resilient to economic downturn.

The Global Goals

Any economic downturn will be a crucial time for universal health coverage and the policies of governments and donors over the next few years in response could have a major role on the success of meeting the Global Goals for Sustainable Development by 2030.

 

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