April 2021 Reflections

‘See it big. Keep it simple’ – Wilferd Arlan Peterson

And another month comes to an end! We’ve been busy. How have you been? 

The quote above typifies our approach to strategic health purchasing (SHP). Our theory of change asserts a line of sight from strengthened SHP functions to health system outcomes and health service delivery. That’s big! But in our work, we keep it really simple, taking a functional approach to SHP – those decisions that a purchaser has to make about what to buy, who to buy from and how to pay. This philosophy is behind our approach to country engagement, discussions of SHP with policymakers and the work we have done with our technical partners since our launch. 

Over the past couple of months, there has been fever-pitch excitement at SPARC as we worked towards finalizing the outputs from work carried out by our technical partners. I am very excited to announce that we have four great dissemination events planned to showcase these. These events with the unique tag, #ChangingtheConversation will feature policymakers from nine countries and take us on a journey from the status of purchasing in these African countries to ‘what next? given what we have learnt.

The first event scheduled for 19th May (Save the date!) will showcase the results of the mapping of SHP functions in nine African countries. Narrative reports and briefs of findings, drivers of and obstacles to progress, including recommendations, have been developed from this work and will be disseminated during the event. 

The second event will focus on the long-awaited performance-based financing (PBF) discussion. The evidence synthesis carried out by our technical partner, Kemri Wellcome Trust, refocuses our attention from whether PBF is effective to a deeper conversation on whether PBF can support a broader movement toward institutionalized strategic purchasing. We will unpack how PBF can be incorporated into wider SHP reforms to support change from a system level. A policy brief on PBF will be disseminated at this event

The third event will showcase the results of the evidence synthesized by the technical partners showing the link between strengthened SHP functions and health system outcomes and service delivery. The narrative reports/briefs from nine countries will be disseminated on the same day.

The fourth event is the ‘so what?!’ session, providing an opportunity for providers of technical assistance and other forms of support to countries to reflect on the discussions from the series and spark a dialogue on how countries can be better supported, given their feedback during the first three sessions.

So, keep a date with us! For more information on these events, dates and how you can register, please visit our website

As I wrap up for this month, I circle back to our Twitter chat earlier this month. It unpacked some of the key messages from our virtual AHAIC 2021 side session. Our panelist, Edwine Barasa, said something that resonated very deeply with ‘keeping it simple’. He said, ‘Don’t jargonize. SHP. If you bumped into someone in MOH corridors and asked them, “what strategic purchasing reforms are needed to enhance equity in your country?” they might draw a blank. But if you asked them instead, “how can the selection of health facilities that provide health services for citizens in your country be done to improve equity, efficiency and quality?” they will give you many ideas!’ Our policy dialogue series follow this great advice!

And that’s where I rest it for this month. Let’s keep it simple.

With that said, I sign off till next month.

Continue to stay safe and healthy.

April 2021 Reflections

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