PA: Mr Kikuchi, can you introduce yourself?
KT: I work at JICA, the bilateral aid agency of Japan. I am Deputy Director in the Health Division of the Tokyo office. I am responsible for Health Systems Strengthening, with a strategic focus on Health Care Financing issues for Africa.
Can you tell us how you got to know about this workshop?
Let me just start with the history of the involvement of JICA in Harmonization for Health in Africa (HHA) . JICA announced its participation in HHA two years ago. Our presence here is a testimony of our commitment to be heavily involved in the promulgation of HHA CoPs. Compared to other CoPs including Human Resource for Health where we have been very active, in the issue of health care financing we are rather new. So far, we have not had many chances to be part of activities for that area.
I understand that you are curious to know more on JICA. Myself, I am an officer in charge of overseeing the HHA mechanism on behalf of JICA in the Tokyo office. We have two focal points in Africa supporting HHA work; one is at our office in Nairobi and the other is working at Dakar office. I was informed about this workshop by my colleague in the Nairobi office.
When it comes to health care ealth financing, I repeat that JICA is something like a new comer. JICA is still exploring into its untapped dimensions of Health Systems Support such as health care financing, out of which assistance in health insurance is promising. JICA sees this workshop as an opportunity to take this technical issue seriously, observe the discussions so that I can go back to report.
Let me say that this workshop is very timely for JICA as Japan celebrated 50 years’ anniversary of achieved Universal Health Coverage (UHC) last year. Hearing that Africa is now intensively talking about UHC, JICA is willing to know more on what is actually going on in Africa and how the debate is going, and to see if there are some areas JICA will be able to support. Health care financing is broad and has many aspects. At this stage, I can already tell you that JICA is interested in planning assistance in the areas of National Health Insurance and National Health Account. Health Insurance is seen as a key intervention to ensure the equitable access to health by covering most of the indigents. National Health Account is also recognized of great help in terms of reading domestic and external financial flows for strengthening the health insurance mechanism. Both of them, we believe that, are potentially significant in leading to the UHC.
The workshop has not yet ended but what is you observation so far?
So far the programme is going very well. I have seen very high senior technical officer from National and International Organizations represented in the meeting. The presentations and contributions are of high technical quality. I have also seen active sharing of ideas. I have observed that health insurance is more advanced than I expected in some of the Africa countries as well as commitment is confirmed to work towards the UHC. This is promising.