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Over 1500 participants from across Africa and the global community – including scientists, practitioners and advocates as well as political leaders, the private sector and media - attended the Africa Health Agenda International conference 2019 in Kigali, Rwanda. One of the largest health-related conferences in Africa, it provided a place to debate the future of health in Africa and accelerate home-grown solutions to diverse health challenges. It was co-hosted by the Ministry of Health of Rwanda and the African Medical and Research Foundation (Amref Health Africa).
Africa is at a critical moment in the pursuit of Universal Health Coverage (UHC). Most countries recognize the importance of “health for all,” both as a means of achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and because it is the right thing to do. However, political will and a clear strategic vision are just the first step. Now, leaders across Africa must turn this commitment into action if Africa is to achieve its UHC targets.
Conference discussions were focused around the four pillars of the conference – access, quality, financing and accountability. Throughout the conference, the cross-cutting subjects of gender, multi-sector partnerships, technology and country leadership were woven into sessions to give nuance to conversations.
In advance of the main conference, Amref Health Africa hosted a Youth Pre-Conference from 3-4 March 2019 at the Kigali Convention Center, bringing together over 300 youth leaders, professionals and future leaders from across the continent to network and be at the center of critical discussions on the future of UHC in Africa.
UHC2030 members and constituencies were present at the conference. Civil Society Engagement Mechanism (CSEM) participated in key conversations, including four CSEM co-led events.
UHC2030 is supporting the preparatory process for the High-Level Meeting (HLM) on UHC on 23 September 2019, particularly to share evidence and good practices, challenges and lessons learned. The CSEM is engaging actively in this process and together with UNAIDs and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) co-hosted a civil society consultation to gather inputs from participants to shape the outcome of the HLM.
At this meeting, participants agreed on the following four priorities actions for the HLM:
1) engage civil society and community in the UHC process to ensure accountability
2) reach first those left behind as committed to in the Sustainable Development Goals
3) increase public health financing
4) focus on health workers/growth of the health workforce.
The Conference was also an opportunity to engage the private sector to build the UHC2030 private sector constituency and give an opportunity for private sector entities to also give input into the political messages that will inform the preparatory process for the HLM on UHC. Some key points were around building trust and inclusive engagement of indigenous entrepreneurs especially, but not limited to, in fragile and conflict-affected settings.