With Government progressing towards implementing National Health Insurance (NHI), the 18th Annual Board of Health Funders (BHF) Conference is appropriately themed ‘Private Sector Embracing Universal Healthcare’.

The theme is centred on how the private healthcare sector can embrace the move towards universal healthcare, identify areas for inclusive participation and effectively prepare for the changes ahead.

The 18th annual BHF Southern Africa conference will be held at the Cape Town International Convention Centre from 16 to 19 July 2017.

The conference will be a platform for the private healthcare sector to explore new territory and identify areas in which they can become involved in the implementation of NHI in South Africa. It is also an opportunity for other SADC countries to explore how they can start preparing to implement the NHI.

Speaking ahead of the conference, Head of Marketing and Branding at BHF Southern Africa, Zola Mtshiya, said: “As with any change, the journey towards universal healthcare will present new challenges. However, the promise of partnership, political will and good leadership might make the journey ahead a lot easier than we have all imagined. Partnering towards universal healthcare seems the most prudent move to ensure our industry participates fully in this development.”

Key issues to be discussed at the conference will include defining the role of the private sector in implementing NHI, and why the private healthcare sector needs to evolve.

Due to recent developments in South Africa’s economy, the conference will also look at the implications of junk status for the healthcare industry.

The gathering will bring together healthcare experts and leaders from around the world. Case studies on country experiences will be presented by speakers from the USA, Kenya, Ghana, and Croatia.

Vice President for Global Health Policy at Johnson & Johnson, Dr Elizabeth Fowler, will share her insights and learnings from her experiences as the USA Special Assistant to former US President Barack Obama on Healthcare and Economic Policy at the National Economic Council. She spearheaded the implementation of the March 2010 Affordable Care Act (popularly known as Obamacare), which was designed to increase the quality and affordability of health insurance in America.

Other speakers include Chairman of the Africa Healthcare Federation, Dr Amit Thakker, from Kenya; former CEO of National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) in Ghana, Nathaniel Otoo; and Principal Officer at Pula Medical Aid Fund, Dr Thato Moumakwa, from Botswana.

Further insights will be shared by former Managing Director of Croatia’s National Health Insurance Fund, Dr Tihomir Strizrep, and the Medical Director at KPMG Global Healthcare Practice in the UK, Dr Niti Pall.

“While government takes the lead, the value and contributions that the private industry can bring to the process is recognised throughout the world, and its expertise, infrastructure, experience, and capabilities will help deliver on the promise to ‘leave no one behind,” said Mtshiya.

“It is therefore important that all healthcare players begin to look beyond fear and limitation, and look into the future, ready to embrace the opportunities that lie ahead,” concluded Mtshiya.

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