Access to health care for the ‘worst-off’ in Burkina Faso: 15 years of research

This presentation is an attempt to summarize some of the major evidences that Valéry Ridde and his colleagues have accumulated the past 15 years of research on access to health care for the ‘worst-off’ in Burkina Faso. It was presented at the 9th European Congress on Tropical Medicine and International Health.

Mining revenue and access to health care in Africa: could the revenue drawn from well-managed mining sectors finance exemption from payment for health?

This article published on August 12th 2015 in Development in Practice and written by Valéry Ridde, Bonnie Campbell and Andréanne Martel is about mining revenue and access to health care in Africa and adresses the question if the revenue drawn from well-managed mining sectors finance exemption from payment for health.   (more…)

Access to healthcare for vulnerable groups – Research and intervention

Access to health care for vulnerable groups in West Africa

The research

The first thing to point out is that we are dealing with a natural experiment over which the researchers have no control. This means the researchers conducting the evaluation are independent of the intervention and have no conflict of interest that would bias them toward producing either positive or negative results. The design of the evaluative study has been adapted to the constraints of the intervention, and the researchers have made efforts to ensure the results will be both useful and usable.

The intervention

The health region of Sahel, located in the northern part of the country, is the region with the worst indicators in the country for both health and healthcare services utilization. Consequently, the Regional Health Department, with the collaboration of Help, decided in September 2008 to implement a trial of user fee exemptions with funding support from ECHO. The NGO concentrated its efforts in two of the region’s four districts, Dori (290,000 inhabitants and 18 healthcare centers in 2009) and Seba (180,000 inhabitants and 11 healthcare centers in 2009).

The key principle is to make healthcare services free at the point of service for vulnerable groups. In return, the COGESs are reimbursed for the costs of providing these services. The NGO acts as a third-party payer, a role that otherwise would fall to the State or a national health insurance.

Intervention model

Intervention model

The NGO has implemented a variety of activities to support this exemption measure, in collaboration with the health district teams and the COGESs:  information and public awareness campaigns, community mobilization, training for COGES members, training and medical supervision for health workers, reimbursement of medical acts, financial monitoring, etc. Over the short term, the aim of this experiment is to improve access to health and social promotion centers (CSPS) for the three target populations, as well as to strengthen the empowerment of COGESs and the target publics, to improve COGES’ financial positions, and to reduce healthcare expenditures. Over the long term, this intervention should help to improve people’s health and lower households’ risk of falling into poverty.

Access to healthcare for vulnerable groups in West Africa

Access to healthcare for vulnerable groups in West Africa

HELP Allemagne


In West Africa, the health status of the population is precarious, particularly because of very poor access to healthcare services. In 2008, the European Community Humanitarian Office (ECHO), the German NGO Help, and the Direction régionale de la santé (DRS) du Sahel in Burkina Faso decided to experiment with user fee exemptions for children under five and pregnant or breastfeeding women. The project’s two objectives are to:

  • provide medical treatment for vulnerable populations;
  • improve the national health policy.

The project has four components:

  • the intervention itself (subsidy for care provided to these vulnerable populations and measures to support this subsidy);
  • evaluative research on the intervention;
  • transfer and dissemination of the knowledge produced by the intervention;
  • advocacy for policy change.

For the research and knowledge transfer activities, the project established a scientific partnership with the University of Montreal Hospital Research Centre (CRCHUM), and in particular, with Professor Valéry Ridde as scientific advisor. The CRCHUM’s research and knowledge transfer mandate, which it carries out in collaboration with the other partners, includes 1) identifying knowledge needs and setting priorities, 2) producing knowledge, 3) disseminating that knowledge, and 4) conducting activities to encourage its use.