In September 2012, Senegal became one of the first countries to join the EU-WHO-LUX Universal Health Coverage Partnership and laid out an ambitious vision whereby all 13 million citizens will have access to quality health care. Along with many other countries in the region, Senegal’s health system faces major challenges, with less than 2 doctors per 30,000 population and only 20% of the population having access to adequate health services.
The aim of the EU/WHO UHC Partnership is to provide a platform for health policy dialogue, where issues on the policy agenda can be discussed regularly by all partners. In Senegal, development partners meet every two months with the Ministry of Health. They include representatives from WHO, USAID, the governments of France, Japan, and Luxemburg, the World Bank, UNICEF, and UNAIDS.
These meetings are not only a way to promote dialogue between health partners in the country, but they also help strengthen the capacity of the Ministry of Health. “The participating organizations, including the World Health Organization, act as advisors,” says Dr. Sall, Health Economic Advisor at WHO Senegal. “WHO also aims to stimulate conversations on health issues between the Ministry of Health and other government entities such as the Ministry of Finance.”
A high priority for the Ministry of Health is to increase the level of general government expenditure on health – currently standing at 12.1% of total expenditure. “We are supporting the Government and saying that more adequate funding and a better utilization of resources can fill the gap in human resources and increase the availability of medicine around the country,” explains Dr. Sall.
Better utilization of resources and effective development processes are also key principles of the International Health Partnership IHP+, which Senegal joined in 2009. IHP+ partners commit to supporting country priorities through the development of strong national health policies and plans. In 2013, Senegal’s Ministry of Health and its development partners signed a “Compact”, laying out a strategy to harmonize efforts to achieve the National Health Development Plan 2009-2018 and the Millennium Development Goals. A number of strong measures have been taken to bolster access to quality care, including the launch of an initiative providing free access to health services to children aged five and under in October 2013.
Click here to access key facts on the current health situation in Senegal.