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.
Chris Atim, Ph.D., is a health economist with more than 25 years of experience in international public health and as a leader in health financing and health systems in Africa.
As senior executive program director at R4D, he serves on the executive team and chairs R4D’s country leadership forum, providing strategic oversight of R4D’s country and partner engagement and leading in the development of R4D’s Africa Strategy. Dr. Atim also provides guidance to multiple teams across R4D on the technical aspects of health systems design and the political aspects of reform. Most recently this included working with the Health Systems Strengthening Accelerator in Ghana, Togo and Cote d’Ivoire on issues ranging from COVID response to health financing. Previously, he worked with the Maternal and Child Survival Program, the Health Finance and Governance project and Systems for Health.
Dr. Atim is also spearheading an initiative at R4D to define and operationalize the organization’s role in shifting global power imbalances within the international development field. Read more in his recent Devex op-ed, Five ways to decolonize global health and build greater equity.
Dr. Atim is in high demand as an advisor to senior government leaders around the world, and in his home country of Ghana, where he chaired the Presidential Blue Ribbon Technical Committee from 2015-2016, and led a review of the Ghana National Health Insurance Scheme to increase its efficiency and financial sustainability.
Before joining R4D in 2015, Dr. Atim spent five years at the World Bank, three years each at the Path Malaria Vaccine Initiative and the HLSP Institute 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 with 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 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 has a Ph.D. in economic development from the University of Sussex, a master’s in development studies from the University of Norwich, and a bachelor’s degree from University of Science and Technology in Kumasi, Ghana. 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. Dr. Atim lives in Accra, Ghana and speaks Buli, Twi, English and French.