Emmaus International

Following the procedure applied to all other Emmaus healthcare programmes, a support mission visited Burkina Faso from 15th to 18th February 2016, during the General Assembly of members of the Emmaus Burkina Faso Africa Mutual Health Scheme (MSA). The meeting was an opportunity to assess the progress of the pilot project, as well as the running, coordination and governance of the scheme, and the involvement of its various stakeholders.

Mutual health schemes are pilot projects spearheaded by Emmaus International as part of work within one of its six priority areas: the right to healthcare. 4 programmes are currently in place: two in Africa (Burkina Faso and Benin), and two in Asia (India and Bangladesh).

Since the constituent General Assemblies of late 2013, the Africa mutual health schemes have become national associations. Prior to these assemblies, the schemes had been individually managed by each of the Emmaus associations operating at country level (4 in Burkina and 4 in Benin). The 2015 MSA General Assembly in Burkina Faso could not be held any earlier than it was, due to the political unrest in the country.

 160303 AG MSA Burkina Bureau

The Burkina Faso MSA bureau. Left to right: Rasmané Sawadogo, Vice-Chair (S.E.M.U.S.), Francelline Sawadogo, Treasurer (Pag-la-Yiri), Emmanuel Siambo, Chair (E.S.O.) and Rama Nignan, General Secretary (Benebnooma).


The Emmaus International delegation, comprising one elected member of the Executive Committee and one member of the International Secretariat, took this assembly as an opportunity to meet the various stakeholders involved in the MSA. With every member of the MSA bureau in attendance, the delegation took stock of the progress made towards achieving the goals set in 2014. Another meeting was also convened with the representatives of each Emmaus association present (the director and the MSA focal point) to assess the programme’s development at local level and examine any difficulties encountered.

The delegation also met with Chief Medical Officer, Lamine Mariko, to review the programme’s performance. He has been in the post for a year, and supports the mutual scheme with all the health-related aspects of its work. His responsibilities include assisting the MSA focal points working in each association, checking the prescriptions and medical advice issued to patients, drawing up and monitoring agreements with healthcare providers, and contributing to the implementation of both the third-party payment system and a health education strategy.
Chaired by Emmanuel Siambo, director of the group Emmaüs Solidarité Ouaga (E.S.O.), the General Assembly of the Burkina Faso MSA brought together more than sixty of the mutual health scheme’s members. They had come to approve the activity and financial reports for 2015, and to discuss the scheme’s policy direction for 2016.

The evaluation of progress made towards achieving the 2014 goals, as well as of difficulties yet to be overcome at either local or national level, led the programme’s stakeholders to set new goals for 2016. Other, more tangible, goals were also adopted. These included a target for membership size to be reached by the end of the year, the freer circulation of information, the commitment of both associations and their directors to invest more heavily upstream in the coordination of the programme at local level, the more regular provision of information to members, and the improvement of the reporting process – an exercise already well underway.

As well as approving both the financial and activity reports at the General Assembly, members also held lengthy discussions on the scheme’s policy direction for 2016. They unequivocally reaffirmed their desire to ensure equal access to healthcare for all, and particularly for associations in rural areas, such as Pag-la-Yiri. Several initiatives to further develop the MSA were proposed. These included boosting media coverage of the scheme with a view to attracting new members.

Whilst the scheme’s ultimate goal may only be achieved in the long term, these new goals clearly demonstrate that the stakeholders of the Emmaus Burkina Faso MSA are making progress, in a state in which a new health policy is taking root as the new government settles into office. Furthermore, a government panel has requested the association’s advice on the issues of medical coverage and the implementation of Universal Health Insurance, or AMU.

1602 AG MSA Burkina Aïcha Sissoko Suzanne Ware

Suzanne Waré and Aïcha Sissoko of the Pag-La-Yiri association.