Health cooperatives: a strategy for achieving the third goal of Africa’s sustainable development agenda

Yaoundé (Republic of Cameroon) welcomed the first international seminar on health cooperatives in Africa on 30 and 31 May 2016. Supported by the Pan-African Cooperative Conference (PCC), the International Summit of Cooperatives and the International Centre for Research, Teaching and Treatment (CIRES), participants from ten countries discussed on the theme Promotion of health cooperatives in Africa as a strategy for achieving the third objective of the sustainable development agenda for Africa.

The central issue was that, despite the willingness and commitment of African governments to achieve access for all population strata to quality health care, the gap between the manifest desire and the realities on the ground is increasingly wide.

Yaounde seminar

From left to right, Ibrahima N’Dour, Bernard Cheumaga, Stéphane Bertrand, Georges Ki-Zerbo, Éric Comte and Jean-Pierre Girard

In such a background, how can the cooperative model help fill this gap in the supply of quality healthcare services especially to the vulnerable groups, against a backdrop of unemployment and underemployment of young graduates from medical and paramedical training schools and universities?
To properly analyse this issues, the seminar participants listened to the experiences provided by leading experts of some African, European and American countries on cooperative and mutual insurance models in the field of health.

Within a context of population growth and rapid urbanisation in Africa, the challenge of universal health coverage is extremely urgent, and all officials in charge of health in African countries must realise the need to define new approaches to promoting access to quality health care.

The seminar participants agreed that the presented cooperative and mutual insurance models could make a significant contribution to the improvement of health indicators in their countries, particularly universal health coverage as planned by the international community within the sustainable development agenda.

They invited all officials at various levels of public health systems to support the development of cooperative models including cooperative health clinics and mutual insurance models to significantly increase the supply and use of quality healthcare services. Delegates also appeal to the World Health Organization to support the preparation and implementation of a pan-African programme for the promotion of health cooperatives, one of whose priorities shall be the conduct of a situational analysis in all African countries to understand concrete realities to be taken into account in the rest of the programme. It may be designed and implemented in partnership with the PCC, which is a pan-African institution dedicated to the promotion of cooperatives covering twenty countries, and with the support of the International Summit of Cooperatives in the advocacy for the development of cooperative and mutual insurance models in Africa.

A declaration was approved inviting all partners concerned about universal health coverage in Africa to combine their efforts with those of States and cooperators for the consistent development of health cooperatives in that continent.

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