Speaker: Ramya Kumar (Lupina Senior Doctoral Fellow; Doctoral Candidate at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health)
Discussant: Chizoba Imoka (founder/CEO of Unveiling Africa; a doctoral student at OISE, and a Junior Resident Fellow at Massey College)
In 2015, the United Nations committed to “Universal Health Coverage” (UHC) in the sustainable development agenda. UHC obliges governments to ensure, by 2030, “financial risk protection, access to quality essential health-care services and access to safe, effective, quality and affordable essential medicines and vaccines for all” (Sustainable Development Knowledge Platform 2015). Evading contentious issues around responsibility for provision, governments in low- and middle-income countries have favoured scaling up coverage through public financing of private healthcare. Drawing on this framework, politicians and policymakers in Sri Lanka are looking to address the growing burden of non-communicable diseases by diversifying provision through private sector collaboration. Despite a rising share of private expenditure, however, the public health sector in Sri Lanka delivers a major share of services, including about 50 per cent of out-patient care, over 90 per cent of in-patient care, and the mainstay of preventive health services. Using the example of Sri Lanka, this paper makes a case for increasing investments in public healthcare, and brings attention to the ways in which mainstream UHC interventions could support dismantling existing public health systems.
Ramya Kumar is a doctoral candidate at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health and a 2015-16 Lupina Senior Doctoral Fellow. Ramya completed her undergraduate degree in medicine at the University of Peradeniya in Sri Lanka, where she subsequently practiced as a physician with the Ministry of Health. She holds a Master of Science in Global Health and Population from the Harvard School of Public Health, and is currently a Junior Fellow at Massey College. Her research interests span the politics of international/global health, women’s health, and applications of critical feminist theory to health.
Chizoba Imoka is an educator, critical international development practitioner, and advocate for public education change in Africa. She is founder/CEO of Unveiling Africa, a non-profit foundation that engages young Africans in political advocacy, community mobilizing and community service. In August 2015, Chizoba led a youth action research project – Days of Change – that engaged Nigerian youth across the world in a cultural leadership and political literacy program, which culminated in the 2015 Advocacy for Inclusive Education Summit held in Lagos, Nigeria. Her work has facilitated a nationwide campaign for the incorporation of indigenous history and knowledge into the Nigerian curriculum. Chizoba is a doctoral student at OISE, and a Junior Fellow at Massey College.