Thursday, June 24, 2010

Rwanda Provides Healthcare for $2 a Year

While the healthcare debate rages in the US, Rwanda, one of the world's poorest countries, has been providing near universal health insurance for 11 years. 92% of Rwandans are covered by the national plan and people must only pay only $2 each once a year to be covered. Even though the hospitals and outreach clinics are still far behind Western standards, they do treat the biggest killers in Africa- diarrhea, pneumonia, malaria, infected cuts, and malnutrition. Hospitals are equipped with most of the major medicines that the World Health Organization has deemed essential.

The program's low costs are sustained by charitable donations and foreign aid, the majority of which comes from the United States. Despite all the successes, the program still has some flaws, namely that every Rwandan pays the exact same $2 bill, regardless of whether they live in a mansion or a hut. However, the successes greatly outweigh the shortcomings. Rwanda's policies have made home delivery illegal (causing maternal and infant deaths to plummet) while also making treatments for the region's biggest killers widely accessible. These policies have helped increased the life expectancy of Rwandans by 4 years over the course of the program.The New York Times article linked below discusses the Rwandan healthcare system in more detail.

-Matthew Thwaites

SOURCES:A Poor Nation, With a Health Plan