Over my year leading the president’s Blue Ribbon Committee, we found that Ghana’s National Health Insurance Scheme faced crucial challenges of sustainability, efficiency and equity principally because it was not designed around the country’s priority health goals and its disease burden. We recommended refocusing the NHIS on providing primary health care (including preventive care) for everyone using the limited resources that come mostly from public taxes; and to operate the premium-based health insurance scheme at only the higher levels of the health system.
Dr. Chris Atim is a health economist with more than twenty-five years of experience working on health systems financing worldwide. He lives in Accra and is Results for Development’s senior program director responsible for health systems and financing work in Ghana and Nigeria.
Dr. Atim currently works on the Health Systems Strengthening Accelerator (HSSA) in Ghana, supporting the government with its COVID response. Previously, he supported the Maternal and Child Survival Program, the Health Finance and Governance project and Systems for Health, all also funded by USAID. From 2015 to 2016, he was asked to lead the Presidential “Blue Ribbon Committee” to review the Ghana National Health Insurance Scheme and make recommendations to increase its efficiency and financial sustainability. In Nigeria, Dr. Atim supports a large health financing project at federal and state levels funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. He also led the readiness assessment of the Niger State Contributory Health Financing Scheme.
Before joining R4D in 2015, Dr. Atim spent five years at the World Bank, three years each at the Path Malaria Vaccine Initiative (in Geneva) and the HLSP Institute (in London) and before that, five years with Abt Associates. He began his career in public health working with the Belgian government’s health schemes and the International Labor Organization in Senegal. He was also an associate professor in health economics (specialties in health insurance and health policy) at the Institute for Higher Management Studies in Senegal.
Dr. Atim is the founding executive director of the African Health Economics and Policy Association (AfHEA). He was one of the pioneers of the development and promotion of mutual health organizations in West Africa known as mutuelles. He led the development of the first manual, in French, for the mutuelles, and then the English (USAID-sponsored) one, too, which propelled the growth and viability of the movement throughout West Africa and even as far as Rwanda, whose national health insurance system, like other nationwide universal health coverage schemes, partly derives from it.
Dr. Atim holds a master’s and a PhD in development studies (economics thesis), from the University of Norwich and the University of Sussex, respectively. In addition, he has completed coursework in epidemiology at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and in health economics and economic evaluation at the University of York. He speaks English and French.