News / Africa

Low-Cost Health Insurance Soon Available in Senegal

FILE - A sick child in a Dakar hospital.
FILE - A sick child in a Dakar hospital.
Jennifer Lazuta
— Low-cost health insurance is about to become available to Senegal's students and informal sector employees via the World Bank Group’s International Finance Corporation (IFC).

Nearly two-thirds of all Senegalese lack access to health insurance and many fall into debt when faced with an unexpected illness or accident.  

IFC, in partnership with CIDR (Centre International de Developpement et de Recherche), says it plans to offer low-cost, private health insurance plans in Senegal as part of the region’s first private co-pay pilot program.

“The current state of play in most of West Africa is that private insurance companies can provide health insurance, but it’s extremely expensive when you compare it to the usual average incomes of people," said Tiphaine Crenn, an IFC operations officer. "About 65 percent of people [in Senegal] do not have any health care coverage whatsoever."

In Senegal, only civil service employees or workers at companies with more than 50 employees, are eligible to receive health care benefits. Crenn says this means many people rely on loans to cover unexpected health care costs.

“One thing that we see over and over again is what we call a health shock, so some kind of serious illness or accident that completely wipes out family savings, or they even have to borrow money to pay health costs," she said. "So it makes people extremely vulnerable. All they need is one massive health shock, and it sends them into complete precariousness, indebtedness."

The IFC says that it will work with six private Senegalese insurance companies to pool the costs of health risks and offer micro-healthcare products at well below normal costs.

Unlike other health care plans in Senegal, which run between $500 and $600 a year and are difficult to qualify for, the IFC program will offer plans as low as $16 per year.

Plans that include hospital visits will cost a maximum of $60 per year; for $3 per year, students can gain access to basic health care and pharmacy services if they get injured at school or on the way to school.

In exchange for the annual fees, participants will receive a health card that requires them to make a co-payment of just 20 percent of normal treatment or medication costs.

Crenn says such a system could change the future of health care in Africa.

“If it [a private co-pay system] really works, and if it can be replicated elsewhere, it would really help to fill in the gaps, because governments try to provide some health services," she said. "But what do individual people do to have access to affordable health care? That’s a big part of what is missing in this picture, so it could be a very important lesson for the region as a whole."

Crenn said the pilot program initially plans to target around 108,000 people in Dakar within three years, after which program will expand to Senegal’s Thies and St. Louis regions and possibly into neighboring countries.

You May Like

EU Court Fines Poland for Hosting CIA 'Black Sites'

Ruling is first time a court has acknowledged suspects were held and tortured at the sites, under US program launched following the 9/11 terrorist attacks More

Migrant Issues Close to Home Spur Groups to Take Action

Groups placing water, food in the desert, or aiding detainees after release, have one common goal: no more deaths of migrants crossing illegally into the US More

Video At AIDS Conference, Prevention Pill Stirs Excitement

Truveda shows promise, spurring debate over access and other approaches More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debatei
X
Shelley Schlender
July 24, 2014 6:43 PM
In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Death Toll From Israel-Gaza Conflict Surpasses 700

Gaza officials say a shelling hit a compound housing a United Nations-run school in the Gaza Strip, killing more than a dozen people, during an Israeli offensive in the area. Heavy fighting between the Israeli military and Hamas militants continued on Thursday, pushing up the death toll. So far, more than 730 Palestinians and 35 Israelis have been killed in the conflict. VOA's Scott Bobb has the latest from Jerusalem.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnels

The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video Researchers Target Low-Cost Avatar Technology

Scientists at the University of Southern California Institute for Creative Technologies say 3-dimensional representations could revolutionize social media. Elizabeth Lee has more from Los Angeles.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.

AppleAndroid