The formation of ECASSA in March 2007 was a response to the need by social protection schemes including health insurance schemes and pension funds, in East and Central Africa, to work more closely in the interest of improving the quality and effectiveness of their services to the people of the region.
It is important to recall that most public social protection institutions were established at independence in the 1960s and all faced the same challenges of low coverage, insignificant benefits and a workforce deprived of proper training in social security administration. This has been attributed to the fact that most of these schemes started as government departments and their leadership was part of the public service bureaucracy with no appreciation of the concept of social security. This resulted in lethargy within these institutions and thus performance well below par over the years.
However, since the late 1990s, these schemes have been exposed to a competitive business environment , assisted by growing consumer awareness of their rights. Over time, many of the schemes adapted new strategies to address these challenges and most importantly, they had their laws amended to make admission to their Boards more professional. Nontheless, challenges such as low coverage, labour migration to neighbouring countries ,poor corporate governance and service delivery continued to persist. A way to have the schemes come together and tackle these challenges was in urgent demand.
In early 2007, after both formal and informal consultations, the schemes Director -Generals and Managers reached a consensus that their organisations could achieve progress in matters of common interest faster and at a relatively low cost if they had a mechanism for maintaining regular contacts, continuous sharing of experiences and pooling of resources to fund capital intensive programmes. ECASSA was thus established and today serves as the sub-regional co-ordination agency to enable social protection schemes realize their full potential in guaranteeing improved social security for the people of this Eastern and Central Afican region.