We hardly give it a second thought: when we’re ill, we see a doctor, who may refer us to a specialist. If we get into an accident, an ambulance will take us to the hospital. The bill is simply sent to our insurance company.
Without health insurance, most people in Africa have no choice but to pay for their medical treatment in cash. These high, often unexpected costs are usually more than they can afford. Medical treatment therefore often results in great poverty, as people end up selling their cattle or shop – their livelihood – to pay for it.
The healthcare system not only suffers from high costs, it also faces many challenges when it comes to quality. Hospitals are burdened beyond capacity and deal with a structural shortage of medical equipment and trained staff. Most African governments are not yet able to solve these problems themselves. As a result, people have little faith in the healthcare system. Why pay ahead for health insurance when you know there are not enough doctors and the medicine you need may not be available?
Achieving access to quality health care in Africa is within reach, even for people with a low income. The Health Insurance Fund has proven that it’s possible. The Dutch Health Insurance Fund, which is also the co-founder of the Global Health Membership, was launched in 2006 with a contribution from the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The goal: working together with local insurers in Africa to improve access to quality care for people with small incomes. Health Insurance Fund takes an integrated approach, believing that sustainable access to quality health care can only be achieved if governments and the corporate world join forces.
We bring primary health care to uninsured groups of people in low-income areas. These groups can range from farmers and livestock owners to independent contractors and market women. After extensive consultation, we set up a health plan that is adjusted to their needs and income. They contribute to the according to their spending power, and in the early stages, Health Insurance Fund finances the residual part of the premium.
At the same time, we ensure that the health plans offer quality health care. The clinics and hospitals are held to international quality standards: they follow standard procedures, administer the correct medicine and train their medical staff. By seeking partnerships with governments and local authorities, in time Health Insurance Fund aims for them to contribute financially and to assume responsibility for delivering affordable and quality health care in their respective regions.
Our insurance partners are established organizations with good reputations, adhering to international regulations and in possession of an approved accountancy declaration. We work together with all stakeholders to improve elements in the healthcare market: quality of clinics, trained medical staff, quality medicine in stock and affordable health insurance. As such, we contribute to building a smoothly operating healthcare system, improving access to quality health care for those who need it most.
On average, health insurance in Africa costs between €33 and €60 per person per year. For many people, such as the farming families in Nigeria, that is a huge amount of money. Money they simply do not have or cannot miss. Your contribution can make the difference, giving these families access to the health care they need. Global Health Membership matches people who care, to people who need care.
Step by step, clinics and hospitals are improving and expanding the quality of their healthcare services. By renovating their facility, upgrading their equipment and providing training for their doctors and nurses, they are building trust in their services. The advice and assistance they receive in executing improvement plans is helping to enhance the medical standards in clinics in Africa.
Your contribution also goes towards capacity building for the staff of clinics and hospitals. Extensive professional training gives doctors and nurses the opportunity to develop their expertise and keep their practice up to date. As competent medical staff is an essential component of a fully functioning healthcare system, technical assistance is an important part of Health Insurance Fund’s approach.