New app to support Côte d’Ivoire’s universal health care plans

COTE D’IVOIRE has launched a new mobile app to pave the way for the rollout of its universal health plan, amid both private and public sector efforts to improve medical standards.

In mid-June the National Health Insurance Fund (Caisse Nationale d’Assurance Maladie, CNAM) launched its MyCMU app, which is designed to provide Ivorians with key information relating to the country’s universal health coverage (Couverture Maladie Universelle, CMU) initiative.

In particular, the platform will inform users on identification processes, sites of enrolment and methods of payment for medical services associated with the CMU.

CMU rollout continues under pilot programme

The launch of the app is a key part of the authorities’ communications strategy for the ongoing rollout of the CMU, which aims to generalise universal health care by 2019  – a large undertaking considering that in February 2016 the US Agency for International Development estimated that around 90 percent of the population did not have access to health coverage.

The scheme is managed by CNAM and has two tiers: the first, the Basic General Scheme, available to all residents, is primarily funded by member contributions of CFA1000 (€1.50) per month for persons over the age of five. Recipients of the scheme pay 30 percent of the cost of their treatment, with the rest paid for by the government. The second, the Medical Assistance Scheme, is for low-income persons, with treatment fully paid for by the government.

Enrolment for the initiative began in 2015, and since April 2017 the government has been monitoring the implementation of its pilot phase, testing the project in nine health facilities and health centres on university campuses.

In February the final stage of the pilot programme saw the CMU incorporated into the health infrastructure of the largest university in the country, University Felix Houphouet-Boigny.

According to government figures, some 108,000 students were enrolled during the first phase.

Public sector boosts health care investment

The rollout of the CMU has been supported by increased public sector investment to improve the quality of hospitals and health care services.

In January the government launched a CFA577bn ($1bn) programme to upgrade infrastructure in hospitals across the country over the next three years.  In its first stage, funding will be directed towards the upgrade of eight hospitals in Yopougon, a suburb of Abidjan, with details regarding the second and third stages to be released later this year.

Additionally, in February officials signed a CFA60bn ($107.7m) loan agreement with the Export-Import Bank of South Korea to build a radiotherapy and cancer-treatment facility in Abidjan.

The 200-bed National Centre for Radiotherapy and Medical Oncology will provide specialist cancer care for Côte d’Ivoire and the surrounding regions, making it less necessary for the local population to travel abroad for cancer treatment.

Private sector pushes to expand market share

Although increased public investment has improved baseline health care standards, the sector still relies significantly on private players, who have also increased spending in recent times.

There are around 2000 private health care facilities in the country, with demand for private coverage expected to rise in line with ongoing economic growth.

‘Up to a few years ago, the public health system was significantly underdeveloped with obsolete equipment, deteriorating infrastructure and lack of human resources,’ Eric Djibo, CEO of the Abidjan-based International Polyclinic of Saint Anne-Marie (PISAM), told OBG. ‘Although the situation has improved and prospects are extremely encouraging, the private sector is crucial to medical treatment in Côte d’Ivoire.’

Since 2014 PISAM has been overseeing a $50 million plan to upgrade its facilities, expected to be completed next year.  The hospital recorded a record 70 percent occupation rate and turnover of $9 million in 2017, the first time it noted positive financial results.

Furthermore, in 2016 health care operator Novamed announced a CFA18bn ($32.3 million) investment plan to strengthen their technical platforms in eight clinics across the country.

The four-year programme aims to boost annual customer numbers to 400,000, up from current levels of around 150,000 and 200,000.

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