RWANDA – The World Health Organization (WHO) is set to fund the 6th African Health Economics Association (AfHEA) scientific conference targeting lessons on health financing and COVID-19 pandemic response.

The African Health Economics Association will be holding its upcoming conference from March 7th to 11th entirely virtually this year due to on-going COVID-19 pandemic.

The conference will be under the theme ‘Building back better health systems: the role of innovation, multi-sectoral approaches and global financial architecture in building resilient health systems in Africa.’

The forthcoming conference aims to promote debate and discussion among African and international researchers, experts and policy makers on resilient health systems in Africa.

It also targets at the role of health economics and policy research in resilient health systems in the continent.

The conference will involve health professionals, practitioners from ministries of health, finance and related agencies, development partners among others with research or policy interest in the subject areas covered by AfHEA.

The WHO Health Financing Team in Geneva together with regional colleagues will be co-organizing significant sessions that will run through the conference week.

During the first session on 7th March, AfHEA will encourage members and partners to reflect contemporary global health issues that require research and policy to address moderated by Cheryl Cashin, Managing Director at Results for Development.

The attendees will have talks on adjustments in public financial management and strategic purchasing that contributed to the COVID-19 health sector response.

The COVID-19 crisis has exposed systemic public financial management (PFM) bottlenecks in health spending and the conference aims to highlight lessons on how to build back better,” reports WHO.

The session will share global and country perspective on countries’ PFM and strategic purchasing aspects of the health response to COVID-19.

Individuals will discuss barriers and enablers for an effective response, key adjustments that facilitated the health sector response as well as lessons for how to strengthen PFM systems and strategic purchasing arrangements.

The meeting aims to outline lessons that will make countries more responsive to future pandemics and capable to sustain efforts towards Universal Health Coverage.

The first session will also encompass a meeting co-organized between ThinkWell and WHO where people will discuss the merits and demerits of decentralization to public financial management in health.

“Most countries around the world have embarked on decentralization processes that affect health service delivery while public financing has grown faster than any other source of health expenditure,” the WHO details.

In many settings, health system performance depends on coherence among decentralization, PFM and health financing reforms and only recently have there been focused efforts to systematically assess how decentralization affects PFM processes and in turn health service provision.

This session will explore how decentralization has shaped PFM processes in the health sector including budget development, approval, execution, and accountability.

It will draw on a learning initiative undertaken by ThinkWell and the WHO to document the decentralization and PFM dynamics shaping the health systems of eight countries namely Burkina Faso, Indonesia, Kenya, Mozambique, Nigeria, the Philippines, Tanzania, and Uganda.

At the second session on 8th March, AfHEA members and partners will have deliberations about opportunities, constraints and necessities driving operationalizing efficiency.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed underlying weaknesses of health systems stemming from underinvestment as well as the way in which donor and domestic investments have been channeled to support health objectives,” WHO further reports.

The meeting will also focus on the adaptations in how funds are channeled and systems are organized to promote efficiency, sustainability and adaptability.

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