An End and a New Beginning…
A year ago, around this time, we started our Year 2. This was effectively going to be our main implementation year because we had spent the better part of Year 1 picking out our institutional home and setting up shop there. We entered Year 2 with great excitement and hope about all the great stuff we were going to do.
And we set to work doing it. We attended conferences to increase awareness of strategic health purchasing (SHP) and understand how we could better align with ongoing work on SHP in the continent and globally, started the year 2020 with an in-person convening of our technical partners, got in a quick scoping visit to the Democratic Republic of Congo, signed off our Memorandum of Understanding with Rwanda and we were planning a trip back there to start up work when COVID-19 struck!
With the pandemic came pivots, adaptations and the over-use of words like ‘unprecedented’, ‘new normal’, ‘social distancing’, ‘flatten the curve’ and so on…but we pressed on! Although the pandemic derailed a couple of our plans, we can point to a number of wins across our three pillars and I will dwell on two key highlights: Virtual engagements and our work to generate evidence on the link between strategic purchasing and service delivery health outcomes.
Our virtual engagements which started in the wake of COVID-19, provided an opportunity to engage with countries in a different way, led to an increased interest in our work and expanded our horizon – we could reach out to a wider audience than would have been possible with face-to-face interactions. In addition, we produced multiple knowledge products from these engagements. If you missed any, find them here. We will build on this platform for future engagements.
We documented lessons from our country engagement in Kenya and synthesized evidence on Performance Based Financing (PBF) with our Technical Partner, Kemri Wellcome Trust. Why are we so interested in PBF? Well, because it has become the face of strategic purchasing in many countries and we want to reflect on this – ‘Is PBF = strategic purchasing?’ or ‘is PBF just one of the tools in the tool box of the wider strategic purchasing discourse?’ You probably belong to one side or the other of this debate and so, we ask you to keep a date with us from October as we dig into this with country partners, donors and other key stakeholders in a series of virtual events to disseminate key messages from this evidence synthesis and ‘SPARC’ a conversation or debate, if you like. More details coming soon.
I would like to use this opportunity to thank our community (Technical Partners, The Force, our Advisory Committee, participants at our virtual events, YOU) for being part of our journey this year (October 1 2019 to September 30, 2020). Without you, we could not have come this far. And so, as we draw the curtains on Year 2, and excitedly usher in Year 3, I invite you all to keep the faith with us. This is a movement and your voice counts.
Stay safe and healthy,
Dr. Nkechi Olalere
Executive Director, SPARC