The Life-Saving Power of Mobile Technology
Achieving Universal Health Coverage and Financial Risk Protection through Mobile Money
Despite widespread introduction of user fee exemption policies, out-of-pocket payments remain the predominant mode for households in sub-Saharan Africa to cater for the costs of healthcare. However, healthcare expenditures often exceed the available assets and savings of a low-income household. In addition, poor households have no assured regular income or collateral to secure a loan, thus preventing insurance companies and financial institutions from providing their services to these potentially high-risk customers.
Within less than a generation, mobile communication has become ubiquitous. During the last 10 years, mobile phone ownership more than doubled in low- and middle-income countries and quadrupled in sub-Saharan Africa. Alongside this revolution followed mobile payment services, also known as mobile money (MM), acting as an alternative to cash.
Owing to its potential to provide users with rapid access to cash and remittances, electronic savings accounts, and insurance schemes, MM is increasingly being used in the health sector and multiple services using MM have been launched in several countries, however with mixed results.
This session aims to highlight best practice examples from the field and to determine potential benefits and implications of using MM and related services to achieve financial risk protection as a key component of universal health coverage (UHC).