Rockefeller Foundation Launches $100M 5-Year Initiative To Improve Health Systems In Africa, Asia

The Rockefeller Foundation launched a $100 million, five-year initiative aimed at improving health systems in Asia and Africa, Judith Rodin, the foundation’s president, said in a speech on Wednesday in Nairobi, Kenya, Xinhua reports. The Transforming Health Systems (THS) project will begin with investments in Ghana, Rwanda and Vietnam, and will also support certain regional and global activities (Ooko, 7/1). The goal of THS is to “help countries in Africa and Asia that lack the latest treatments and technology; and where many people are forced to pay their medical bills out of pocket,” VOA News writes (DeCapua, 7/1). 

Rodin said THS will put the emphasis on assisting low-income countries with the challenges their health systems face, shifting the focus from treatments and vaccines. She said the goal is to expand health coverage and provide new health and financial protections for everyone, Xinhua writes. “Although it is imperative that we continue developing and delivering new vaccines and medicines, many people still cannot access a clinic, pay out-of-pocket costs for medication and treatment, and fall into poverty as a result,” Rodin said, adding that THS “will help ensure that investment is felt universally by supporting national efforts to provide equitable access.”

“A country’s shift to universal coverage does not happen overnight,” Ariel Pablos-Mendez, managing director responsible for THS, said. Low-income countries have already demonstrated, the shift is “built on the reorganization of domestic financing rather than the influx of increased amounts of foreign aid,” Pablos-Mendez said, adding, “If invested more wisely, increases in health spending can contribute to sound economic policy, better health outcomes, and lower rates of poverty” (7/1).

The Chronicle of Philanthropy reports the foundation will try three approaches for the new initiative, which are: “training health professionals and developing better health policies, data-gathering, and financing mechanisms; improving regulation and partnership of private hospitals and other nongovernment health players; and using mobile phones, electronic health records, and other information technology to improve access to health services and making them less expensive” (Wilhelm, 7/1).

In a release, Rockefeller Foundation Managing Director in Africa James Nyoro, said, “Despite the global economic situation, investment in health systems that provide accessible, affordable and quality care to the developing world cannot wait” (7/1).

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