By Cheruto Valentine
The Agency for Universal Health Coverage (UHC) in Senegal (CMU) has launched a new digital platform that intends to boost access to medical care across Africa. This platform, which is entirely Senegal’s creation, is the first of its kind to have been fully designed and developed by a public agency on a global scale.
One of the features that the digital platform, sunucmu.com, offers people is the chance to make digital payments for health care services. This feature falls within the scope of “the agenda for the digitization of payments” which is an agenda that was initiated in Senegal in November 2018.
“The implementation of this platform should accelerate the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, particularly the one on health. Digital payments are a genuine asset because they reduce costs, increase transactions and facilitate the participation of third parties who want to sign up a close friend or family member or make a donation,” said Priya Gajraj, the UN resident coordinator in Senegal during the launch.
In comparison to the progress Senegal has made towards attaining UHC, Kenya is just getting started. In December 2018, President Uhuru Kenyatta launched the UHC pilot project in Kisumu County. Other counties expected to pilot the first phase include Nyeri, Isiolo and Machakos which will be added to the program in due time. The full rollout of the project countrywide is expected to be achieved by 2022.
However, digital payment for healthcare in Kenya is not a foreign issue. In December 2015, mobile network operator, Safaricom, launched a mobile health wallet known as M-TIBA. This platform enables people to save money which they use to make payments for services received at accredited health care service providers.
According to CMU director of IT systems, Mouhamed Mahi SY, Senegal’s launch of this digital platform is to be supplemented by a mobile app which will be released in June. By this time, all healthcare providers in Senegal are expected to be geo-located; enabling Senegalese to find the closest and most competent healthcare specialist with ease.
“With the digital transformation of the CMU, we have set ourselves the challenge of achieving more than 75 percent health coverage in 24 months. We were delighted with the record level of adoption during the awareness-raising sessions with mutual insurers in the region; this has demonstrated that the added value which we are striving to deliver is in tune with expectations in the field,” Mahi added.
CMU, which was founded in 2015, is part of the Senegal government’s program to accelerate the country’s economic and social development. By extending this process of democratization to provide access to health to all countries on the African continent, Senegal aims to be a leader in this field. Contact: email@example.com