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International Partnerships

Supporting health systems across Africa

Strong health systems are key to tackling pandemics such as COVID-19. Through direct budget support, the EU helps strengthen health systems across Africa, building up countries’ capacities to deliver vital health services to their citizens.

In Rwanda, the EU supported the country in achieving universal healthcare though the roll-out of a compulsory health insurance scheme, while in Burkina Faso EU budget support helped tear down obstacles impeding access to basic health services.


One of the key roles of budget support programmes, especially in low-income countries, is to ensure the provision of basic services to the population where state functions may be limited in terms of financing and capacity. Budget support programmes in west and central Africa have tackled these limitations, through a two-pronged approach of ensuring financing for social service provision and enhancing domestic resource mobilisation.

In Rwanda, the EU has strongly supported efforts to put aid effectiveness principles into practice and ensure that all contributions are built around a co-ordinated national plan. Through direct support to the national budget, the EU supported Rwanda’s efforts to build a leading model for healthcare systems in Africa

To improve outcomes in Burkina Faso's health sector, EU budget support was combined with a dialogue on national development policy. This was reinforced in regions affected by terrorist attacks in order to help keep basic health services up and running.

Rwanda’s health sector has been a great African success story, with integrated services in health facilities, and subsidised premiums and co-payments of health insurance for over two million of the poorest Rwandans. Over 90% of Rwandans are covered by the national scheme, making it one of the few developing countries in the world that has successfully achieved universal healthcare. The country’s life expectancy has almost doubled from 35 in 1995 to 67 years in 2017. This remarkable progress has been associated with great advances against infectious diseases such as HIV, tuberculosis and malaria, and improvements in reproductive health, maternal health and newborn and child health.

Burkina Faso's cooperation with the EU encouraged an increase in domestic budget allocation for health to nearly 13%, putting it on track to meet the 15% Abuja Declaration target. Burkina Faso has also abolished out-of-pocket payment for healthcare for women and children under five, introduced more stringent monitoring of healthcare services, and access to modern contraceptives and family planning has increased, making significant strides in reducing maternal and infant mortality.

EU budget support is a key tool for tackling poverty and strengthening institutions. With strengthened healthcare systems, these countries are now better equipped to face health crises such as the COVID-19 pandemic. The EU now looks to work with Members States and partners around the world to assist vulnerable countries and communities around the world, especially in Africa.

Burkina Faso healthcare