National Conference on Free Care Policies in Mali
In recent years the Ministry of Health (MoH) in Mali extended its free care policies to include coverage of anti-retrovirals in 2004, cesarean sections in 2005 and new treatments against malaria (ACT) in 2007. In addition, several pilot projects supported by different NGOs have also been exploring strategies to provide free care for children under the age of five. Given the multitude of initiatives being implemented at the moment in Mali, the Ministry of Health requested researchers to gather useful evidence for decision-making particularly around the effects, implementation challenges, and costs associated with these various free care initiatives.
For two days, from March 31-April 1, 2011, over one hundred researchers, policymakers, and technical experts gathered together in Bamako to attend the National Conference on Free Care Policies, which was organized by the MoH and co-sponsored by MLI. The National Conference provided a venue to feature research results and recommendations from the following research projects and institutions:
-Free Care Observatory in Mali (DNS, Université de Montréal, MSF-OCB)
-Evaluation of the Effects of Removing User Fees for Cesareans in Mali (DNS/DSR, Abt Associates, Health Systems 20/20, ATN Plus,)
-Analysis of the effects of introducing financial coverage for children under five years old in Mali (CPS, Abt Associates, ATN Plus, Health Sytems 20/20)
-Evaluation of Cesareans in the Kayes Region of Mali (DRS, Université de Montréal)
In addition to the research presentations, participants were asked to split into groups to discuss lessons learned and identify important policy and research recommendations. The conference was a catalyst for healthy debate and lively discussion amongst both policy makers and implementers.