Each year, the world celebrate Universal Health Coverage Day on 12th December. Village Health Action, which is a member of Universal Health Coverage Civil Society Engagement Mechanism applied for a grant to organise an advocacy day. Village Health Action won 19,000 USD.
Even if the constitution of Burundi recognises the right to health and pregnant women and children under five years are free of change, the statistics show that Burundi is still behind in terms of achieving universal health coverage because UHC service index is 42(World Bank, 2017)
Dr Egide Haragirimana who applied for the grant on behalf Village Health Action said that:” it is crucial that everyone has access to healthcare despite his abilities to pay and the government must set up mechanisms to guarantee that all citizens have access at all healthcare levels without suffering financial hardships.
We celebrated the day throughout a workshop held at Tulipe Bujumbura north Bujumbura. It included presentations on UHC related topics as well as group discussions.
Were present in the workshop:
- Two members of the Burundi parliament who are in charge of social issues including health and education
- The representative of the Ministry of Solidarity and Social Protection
- Five civil society organisations
- School representatives
- Insurance health company
- Healthcare professionals
The vice-chair of Village Health Action opened the day and stressed on the importance of reaching UHC coverage by 2030 as the country Burundi is a signatory of the political declaration of the September 2019 UN HL meeting on Universal Health Coverage, to achieve that we need to work hand in hand so that way no one is left behind. He invited all other CS to work together to form a local coalition for a strong UHC Burundi movement.
The ministry of health, World Health Organisation (Burundi representation) and civil society organisations did not agree on the activities which pushed to postpone for another the day which is celebrated on 12th worldwide. However, the ministry of solidarity and social protection joined us to pledge the health for all. Due these changes in plan, some activities were not carried like a March and raising awareness in the community.
Presentations done were on the following themes:
- Role of civil society organisations to reach UHC in Burundi
- Mutuality as a way to reach the UHC: Solis case example
- School health as one of the way of reaching UHC
Group discussions on five themes:
- Access to diagnosis in Burundi
- Access to medicines in Burundi
- Preventive medicine: the cornerstone of school health: what challenges for what solutions?
- The role of health insurances to reach the UHC: challenges and possible solutions in Burundi
For each theme, teams tried to see what are the challenges, possible solutions and figured out what should be done by civil society organisations as well as by government and people representatives.
After presentations and group discussions, keys recommendations were made:
- Continue to raise awareness through health education as ignorance still persists
- Civil society organisations to keep advocating for health for all
- Putting an end to the conditionality of aid
- Facilitating cohesion between the public and private sectors so that they can work as partners and not as competitors
- Encourage people to have health coverage and make it compulsory if necessary; and in this area ensure, for example, that all employers pay for insurance for their employees; without forgetting the setting up of a commission in charge of the management of health insurances
- Make essentials medicines available and affordable
- Continual training of healthcare professionals
- Civil society organisations should form a platform for better advocacy for UHC
Because our role in advocating for health, include UHC and our implication to mobilise different actors, Village Health Action is leading the UHC civil society platform in Burundi. Our organisation will participate in the upcoming school health project that will promote health behaviours, gender and equity in global health.
Village Health Action will continue to advocate for UHC, raising awareness on preventable diseases as well as delivering tools to improve the lives of Burundians.