May 2021 Reflections

After months of work with our technical partners on the strategic purchasing functional mapping results and reports, and weeks of preparation, we kicked off our webinar series, “Strengthening Strategic Health Purchasing in Africa — Changing the Conversation.” Did you catch the first session? We launched the strategic purchasing policy briefs from nine countries and hosted three policymakers to a discussion on how to make and sustain progress towards strategic purchasing on the continent.

A couple of things stood out for me from this webinar. That there is no ‘one size fits all’ in making progress towards strategic purchasing. Countries can start wherever they are in their journey of change by strengthening their purchasing functions – benefits specification, provider contracting, provider payment mechanisms and performance monitoring.  The three countries represented on the panel exemplified two different ways of making progress – through health insurance systems and through budget funded systems. Rwanda and Ghana have been able to make progress in strategic purchasing by consolidating purchasing power in health insurance agencies with significant defragmentation. On the other hand, Tanzania has been able to consolidate different funding streams at the level of the healthcare service provider through direct health facility financing.

We captured these and many more lessons in the launched policy briefs, describing drivers of progress, obstacles and recommendations for further progress. Have you read them? You can do that here.

I want to use this opportunity to thank our technical partners (eleven Africa-based Anglophone and Francophone institutions from nine countries, including academic institutions, think tanks, and policy analysis institutions), who have been on this journey with us. The long reports and launched policy briefs are products of extensive literature review and key informant interviews conducted by this consortium, and the findings have already started spurring critical decisions within their countries and cross-learning with other countries.

Next month, our webinar train moves to address performance-based financing. In the same tradition of #ChangingtheConversation, we are asking different questions – not whether performance-based financing works but whether it has supported a move towards wider system reforms. We would like to hear from countries that have implemented this program about whether the purchasing improvements supported by performance-based financing have trickled into the wider system…and if not, how these improvements can support broader system reforms. You don’t want to miss this discussion! Stay tuned to our social media channels for all the details as we finalize them.

Did you catch our #SPARCchat earlier in the month? We discussed capitation and implementation challenges. We hosted technical experts from Nigeria and South Africa, two countries that have widely implemented and are planning for implementation, respectively. The discussion was insightful, sharing deep reflections on some of the concerns countries have about capitation and how they can be mitigated. If you missed the chat, we have curated the key messages and the whole chat. Read it all in the SPARCchat section below.

What are you observing in the strategic purchasing space in your country or work? Drop a line and let us know!

Continue to stay safe and healthy.

May 2021 Reflections

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