On behalf of the Board and Executive Committee of the African Health Economics & Policy Association (AfHEA), I would like to extend to you compliments of the season and wish you all a Happy and Prosperous New Year in 2022! It is our pleasure once again to bring you the report card on AfHEA’s work in the past year and its planned activities for the new year.
Activities undertaken in 2021
During the year, AfHEA, like all other organizations around the world, learned to adjust to the new normal brought about by the covid-19 pandemic.
AfHEA was able to record the following achievements:
Participation in national and regional meetings/events
In 2021, AfHEA participated in the following events:
- Meeting of the Regional Working Group on Health Risk Coverage (RWG-RCM): Ouagadougou, from 07 to 09 December 2021
Objectives of the meeting:
The general objective of the meeting is to revitalize the Regional Working Group on Health Insurance (RWG-HI) so that it can fully carry out its role as the Commission's advisory body on health insurance, in line with the reforms under way in the Member States of the Union on this subject.
- WANEL’s RECOVER project inception meeting
In addition to the technical and administrative support to WANEL on the incorporation and drafting of its constitution, AfHEA was invited to the WANEL RECOVER project inception meeting in Ghana, which was held between 10th and 11th June 2021. Mr. Daniel Malik Achala participated in the meeting on behalf of AfHEA.
The meeting’s objectives were:
- Provide the opportunity for leaders of the network (country coordinators/thematic working group leads) to:
- Review the activities and operations of the network thus far
- Identify strategic directions for the development and consolidation of its operational frameworks (strategic plans/action plans/communication plans) to support the network’s effective functioning and long-term sustainability.
- Provide a working space for the RECOVER project implementing team to further discuss and align the project’s implementation strategies, plans, procedures and methodological approaches.
Forging of partnerships with other institutions
During the year, AfHEA entered into (or renewed) partnership agreements with various institutions including: WHO-AFRO, Center for Higher Management Studies (CESAG) and Africa CDC.
Organizational effectiveness and sustainability assessment of AfHEA
In November 2021, the technical support from Humentum, made possible with funding support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation was concluded. The aim of the technical support was to strengthen AfHEA’s operational effectiveness and enhance its financial sustainability.
The technical support covered 8 key domains of the organization, namely: Leadership & Governance, Membership, Program Delivery, Partnerships & Networks, Staffing & Technical Capacity, Financial Capacity & Information Technology, Resource Mobilization, and Branding & Advocacy.
The roadmap that was jointly agreed upon by AfHEA and Humentum was successfully implemented partly and the remaining portion of the roadmap will continue to be implemented until August 2022.
During the project’s close-out meeting jointly held between AfHEA’s staff and executives, Humentum’s staff and BMGF’s staff, the feedback given by AfHEA’s staff and executives was overwhelmingly positive and pointed to the positive growth that the staff and executives experienced from the entire process.
Development of a new strategic plan and business plan
A new strategic plan and business plan were developed during the year that took into consideration the results from the operational effectiveness and sustainability analysis. The strategic plan will guide the activities of the association in the next 5 years.
The Economics of Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health Interventions in Ghana and Senegal (EcASaRH) project
The EcASaRH project, funded by the International Development and Research Centre (IDRC), kick-started in April 2019 and is expected to end in 2023. The project is expected to contribute to our understanding of ASRH interventions in the context of Ghana and Senegal and Africa as a whole. The objectives of the project are to: identify priority ASRH interventions in Ghana and Senegal, cost the interventions and assess the existing funding gaps for the interventions identified, and lastly formulate strategies for resource mobilization to address the gaps.
Investment cases for transformative results project
During the year, AfHEA was contracted by UNFPA to assist in providing technical research support on the “Investment cases for transformative results” project. The aim of the project is to develop strong investment cases argument to support advocacy for investing in reducing maternal mortality, support advocacy for the UHC agenda on family planning, ending female genital mutilation and ending gender-based violence. This project is being implemented in five African countries, namely, Botswana, Kenya, Madagascar, Namibia and South Sudan.
AfHEA has supported the recruitment of research consultants and is providing leadership and coordination for the consultant teams and the later analytical phase of the project. The project was successfully completed in July 2021.
Mentorship workshop on scientific writing for early career researchers
In March 2021, AfHEA and WHO-AFRO launched a capacity strengthening programme on scientific writing. A group of early career researchers was selected for training and mentoring on scientific writing and to ultimately support the publication of their papers in a reputable journal as part of their contribution to scientific output in Africa. The programme also included a virtual capacity building workshop on scientific writing that was held on June 17, 2021 and which attracted more than 100 participants.
Preparations for the 6th Scientific Conference
Following the successful holding of the 5th conference in March 2019, the Board of Trustees has now approved the holding of the 6th AfHEA conference in March 2022. Due to covid-19 and the impact it has had on international travel and meetings, the 6th conference will be a fully virtual event. The conference will take place from March 7–11, 2022 with several pre-conference workshops prior to the main conference.
The main preparatory activities that have been completed so far are:
- Seeking approval from the Board of Trustees on the timing for the conference.
- Drafting of the conference concept note to guide the conference planning and organization.
- Setting up of a conference planning committee to steer the conference organization and planning.
- Setting up a conference country host selection committee to assist with the selection of the country host.
- Sending out a call for expression of interest for countries and institutions to host the conference.
- Sending out a call for submission of abstracts.
- Review of submitted abstracts by the Scientific Committee.
- Draft program schedule.
- Invitation to partners for their participation.
Hiring of Director of Operations and Deputy Director of Operations
During the year, the association brought on board two new staff: the Director of Operations (DOO), Mr. Matthias Akuliga Aneinini as well as a Deputy Director of Operations, Ms. Elizabeth Adote. The two are part of the Secretariat and are based in Accra.
AfHEA’s transition planning
As the last step of AfHEA’s transition process, the Board of Trustees, through the Nominations Committee, began the process of selecting a new Executive Director for the association.
The call for applications attracted a total of 5 applicants, 3 of whom proceeded to the interview stage. The successful candidate is expected to officially take office on April 1, 2022.
New grant from WHO-AFRO
Towards the end of 2021, AfHEA was awarded a grant by WHO-AFRO to undertake research on health budget execution and public financial management in four countries: Uganda, Burkina Faso, Senegal and Cameroon. The project will seek to unearth the root causes of low budget execution in these countries, document and understand the mitigation measures for low health sector budget execution and accordingly inform policy change for improved health sector budget execution in Africa.
New grant from International Development Research Centre
I am happy to inform you that AfHEA, together with partners Africa CDC and UNECA, was recently awarded a grant by IDRC to implement a 3-year project titled “Equitable Access to the Covid-19 Vaccines in Africa (ECOVA).” This project aims to generate evidence to inform solutions to improve Africa’s ability and capacity to manufacture, effectively distribute and administer COVID-19 vaccines. It critically examines international regulatory frameworks which affect equitable access to vaccines, and the domestic challenges in Africa including manufacturing capacity, equitable delivery and uptake of COVID-19 vaccines. The project will be action-oriented, contributing to practical ways of ensuring vaccine equity in Africa.
Activities planned for 2022
In the year 2022, AfHEA will:
- Conclude the preparations for the 6th biennial conference and hold the conference in March 2022.
- Continue implementing and conclude the PFM project.
- Start the implementation of the ECOVA project in February 2022.
Finally, I would like to sincerely thank the members of AfHEA’s Board, the Executive Committee, and the Secretariat who have continued to serve the association with diligence in the midst of the covid-19-related challenges.
Thanks also to our members and partners for their commitment and encouraging support. Special thanks to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and especially Dr. Logan Brenzel who has continued to be a valued thought partner of the association.
Dr. Chris Atim
AfHEA Executive Director
Contributions from: Grace Njeri and Danny Achala.