Rwanda wins global social security award

Rwanda has been named the recipient of the 2019 Award for Outstanding Achievements in Social Security.

This was announced Friday at the closing of a five-day World Social Security Forum (WSSF) in Brussels, Belgium.

The award is presented by the International Social Security Association (ISSA), a grouping of 330 national social security administrations and agencies from 158 countries.

The 2019 ISSA Award for Outstanding Achievements in Social Security went to the Government of Rwanda for achieving almost full health insurance coverage in less than 20 years and reaching the highest health coverage rates in Sub-Saharan Africa, according to a statement.  

“Rwanda has achieved something truly unique in moving towards universal health coverage in record time, and this Award is in recognition of the impressive work done by Rwandan authorities over the last two decades,” ISSA Secretary General Marcelo Abi-Ramia Caetano is quoted in the statement as saying.

The summit, hosted by the public social security institutions of Belgium, ran from October 14-18.

The Award offers worldwide recognition of a country’s exceptional commitment and achievements in the field of social protection in line with the ISSA’s vision of Dynamic Social Security.

The Award is presented every three years at the World Social Security Forum, which this week gathered 1300 social security leaders and experts from around the world in Brussels, Belgium, the ISSA said.

“Based on sound political commitment, good governance and management, along with long-term planning, Rwanda made impressive strides towards universal health coverage starting with a pilot in 1999 and reaching more than 90 per cent coverage in 2018,” the statement reads in part.

The success of Rwanda lies in its innovative model of a “national community based health insurance”, it adds.

The statement says the insurance scheme is based on “complementary community-based health insurance schemes combined with the advantages of compulsory health insurance”, which it also combines “community-level schemes with the professional management structures of the existing social security scheme.”

ISSA says the scheme, best known in Rwanda as Mutuelle de Sante, is also characterised by “important domestic financing input complemented by donor funds instead of the other way around.”

In presenting the Award to Rwanda, ISSA also “signalled the belief that several aspects of this approach can serve as model and inspiration to other countries”.

The global social security body says “universal health coverage scheme of Rwanda contributed significantly to the improvement of several key social development indicators.”

Notably, it cited reduced emergency health expenditures (and therefore poverty); reduced infant and maternal mortality rates by two-thirds since the year 2000, increased health education and family planning for women, and increased social equality and equity.


Touted as the largest and most important international event for social security, the forum draws over 1,000 participants from around the world.

Organisers say it provides “unparalleled source of exclusive networking, knowledge and inspiration for ISSA member organisations.”

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Written by Adebola

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