ABIDJAN, Feb 12 (Reuters) - Ivory Coast launched enrollment for a planned universal healthcare programme on Thursday with initial government financing of 20 billion CFA francs ($34.67 million), the scheme's director said.
The West African nation is expecting 4 million people to sign up this year, in a country where officials say less than five percent of the population is covered by health insurance.
The insurance will eventually be compulsory for the country's 23 million inhabitants, requiring a monthly contribution of 1,000 CFA francs for every person over the age of five years.
Low-cost treatment of basic health problems is due to begin in September before expanding next year.
"Universal health coverage is a need. It's a necessity. We must create a foundation of solidarity," Karim Bamba, the general director of the National Health Insurance Fund said at the programme's launch.
$1 = 576.9200 CFA francs Reporting by Loucoumane Coulibaly; Editing by Joe Bavier and James Macharia