2015 End of Year Statement to AfHEA Membership

Dear Colleagues,

On behalf of the Board and Executive Committee of the African Health Economics & Policy Association (AfHEA), we extend to you compliments of the season and wish you all a prosperous new year 2016!

The year 2015 marked an important milestone for the development community as it saw the conclusion of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the launch, in its place, of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). We are nostalgic about how far we have come as an association of health economists and health financing and policy experts, and equally excited about the promise the new development agenda holds for the African continent, which had more unfinished business in the MDGs than any other region in the world.

As African countries chart their own course towards meeting the new development targets, it is our hope that AfHEA will continue playing a critical role in offering technical assistance and building the capacity of Africans to enable them provide local solutions to their local challenges.

Activities undertaken in 2015

In the year 2015, AfHEA was able to undertake the following activities:

Conclusion of the UHC Capacity Building and Dissemination Project

The “UHC Capacity Building and Dissemination Project” came to an end in August 2015; 3 years after its inception in July 2012. We are happy to inform you that all the project’s objectives, targets and results were achieved within the project’s timeframe and within budget. The capacity building workshops also achieved a self-financing status even before the project was completed. In addition, 11 papers from the 3rd Biennial Conference were published in the WHO-AFRO’s African Health Monitor’s special issue on UHC (Issue 20, October 2015).

AfHEA intends to take forward the project’s sustainable and self-funding UHC capacity-building activities and to further seek support for activities that were not self-funding (dissemination of the research results).

The implementation of this project has built AfHEA’s pool of UHC experts and we have witnessed an increasing demand for such capacity-building activities from national and regional institutions. For instance, in November 2015 (3 months after the end of the project), AfHEA was requested by WAHO to undertake a similar capacity-building workshop for WAHO’s Anglophone member countries, fully supported by WAHO. AfHEA is also in the process of finalizing a UHC guide for Francophone countries requested and funded by WAHO

On October 28, 2015, a webinar organized by the Evidence to Policy Technical Working Group of Health Systems Global jointly with AfHEA focused on the impact of AfHEA’s capacity building work particularly in Francophone Africa. We are most grateful to Pascal Ndiaye and all the others who worked tirelessly to make the webinar a huge success.

Implementation of the “Research on Health Financing Issues in Africa” Project

The actual implementation of this project, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, began in January 2015 with the hiring of a new Project Manager based in the Accra office. The key activities undertaken in 2015 include:

  • Award of contract to the School of Public Health, University of Ghana, to analyze the “fiscal space implications for countries graduating from low- to low middle-income countries”. Work is underway.
  • Award of contract to an NHA expert based in Kenya to develop an inception report on National Health Accounts data. Work is near completion.
  • Award of contract to a researcher based at the London School of Economics (selected competitively) to undertake analysis of Service Delivery Indicators (SDI) data for 4 countries: Nigeria, Senegal, Kenya and Tanzania. Analysis is currently ongoing.
  • Held a competition for abstracts on improving Primary Health Care performance in Africa. The top 4 authors were awarded a cash prize of $5,000, a scholarship to attend the 4th Biennial conference in Rabat in September 2016, and mentorship support to develop the abstracts into papers for publication in peer-reviewed journals.

Preparations for the 4th Biennial Conference

The 4th AfHEA Biennial Conference will take place at the Sofitel Jardin des Roses in Rabat, Morocco, from 26th to 29th September 2016.

  • In May 2015, a Board member and an Executive member went to Morocco on an exploratory mission to analyze the feasibility of holding the next conference in Morocco. The report was positive and a decision was made by the Board to make Morocco the next location.
  • Discussions were held with the Ministry of Health, Morocco, and a local committee was formed led by two Ministry officials
  • The conference 4 key committees were formed: Scientific, Organizing, Fund-raising and Media and Communications committees
  • Developed the conference website
  • The call for abstracts was announced on September 17th 2015
  • The conference registration was opened on December 16th 2015

Participation in national and regional meetings/events

  • The 60th East, Central and Southern Africa Health Community (ECSA-HC) Health Ministers Conference, was held in Kampala, Uganda from 15-18 February 2015
  • Technical Consultation on Global Strategy on Human Resources for Health: Health Workforce 2030, held in Ghana from 8-9 July 2015
  • The UHC Day held in Accra, Ghana on 12th December 2015

Proud moments for AfHEA in 2015

  • Appointment of Dr. Chris Atim to chair the Government Technical Committee tasked with reviewing the Ghana National Health Insurance Scheme

In September 2015, the –President of Ghana appointed AfHEA’s Executive Director, Dr. Chris Atim, to chair a Technical Committee that was tasked with reviewing the current status of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), propose options for its reform as well as come up with solutions for the financial challenges facing the scheme. Prof. Irene Agyepong (an AfHEA Board member) was also appointed as a member of the technical committee. This was indeed a moment of pride for AfHEA and showed the increasing confidence that national and regional institutions continue to have in the association.

  • Appointment of Prof. Di McIntyre to head the International Health Economics Association (iHEA)

The month of November 2015 also marked another proud moment for AfHEA when Prof. Di McIntyre (a founding Board member and Founding Chair of the Scientific Committee) won the elections for the position of Executive Director for iHEA. Prof. Di, who was actively involved in building AfHEA and has been one of the most active Board members, will assume her position in January 2016. On behalf of AfHEA, we wish her a successful term at the helm of iHEA and hope this marks closer links between iHEA and regional associations in the South.

Sad moments for AfHEA in 2015

The year 2015 also dealt a big blow to the AfHEA family as we lost one of our Executive members and the Association’s Membership Secretary, Dr. Divine Ikenwilo. Described by the Executive Director as “one of our most lovely, cheerful, hardworking and dynamic members”, Dr. Divine was just that – Simply Divine! We miss him and as he rests in peace, we wish his family, colleagues and friends peace and comfort.

In addition, our long-serving Finance and Administrative Manager, Ms. Rejoice Dake, who was also AfHEA’s first employee, left the Association to take up another appointment. Whilst it was sad to see her go, we are thankful to her for her diligence and great service to AfHEA and wish her the very best in her new position. We also take heart from her promise to remain in touch and even find ways to continue to assist as and when possible and needed.

Activities planned for 2016

In the year 2016, AfHEA will:

  • Conclude the analysis of the SDI data for the 4 countries
  • Finalize the “fiscal space” study
  • Develop the selected abstracts into full papers for publication in peer-reviewed journals
  • Take part in regional meetings to disseminate the results of the works emanating from the Health Financing project
  • Finalize the preparations for the 2016 conference and hold the conference in September 2016
  • Explore additional collaborations with partners to advance the African and international health agendas

Finally, we would like to thank the members of AfHEA Board and Executive Committee for their continued service to the association as well as the membership and our partners for their wonderful and encouraging support.

We look forward to working with you all in the New Year!

Additional input by the Executive Director: I would like to personally thank our Secretary, Ms. Grace Njeri, for an outstanding performance and sterling service throughout the year. Some of you would have probably noticed that she has been spearheading a number of our initiatives this year. This has been a tremendous relief to me personally as I have been juggling numerous assignments under the multiple hats I have been wearing lately. This is also a great boon to the association as this example portends a future where some of our founding leaders can take an increasingly back seat role and newer, even younger, members can step forward and carry the association to ever greater heights.

We wish everyone the best of the season’s greetings and a Happy New Year in 2016!

 

Prepared by:

Ms. Grace Njeri, Secretary – AfHEA

With inputs from:

  • Chris Atim, Executive Director
  • AfHEA’s Accra Office staff

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