AfHEA’s 6th Biennial Scientific Conference: WHO Health Financing Sessions

The African Health Economics Association (AfHEA) is holding its 6th scientific conference March 7th – 11th, 2022. This conference aims to promote debate and discussion among African and international researchers, experts and policy makers on resilient health systems and the role of health economics and policy research in resilient health systems in Africa. Due to on-going COVID-19 pandemic, all sessions will be held entirely online.

The target audience for this conference are researchers, policy makers, health professionals, academics and students, practitioners from ministries of health, finance and related agencies, individuals form the INGO/NGO and community-based organizations, development partners and others with a research or policy interest in the subject areas covered by AfHEA.

For those who have registered for the AfHEA conference, the WHO Health Financing Team in Geneva jointly with regional colleagues will be organizing or co-organizing several sessions throughout the week. Please find more details regarding each of these sessions below.


AfHEA High Level Plenary 1

DATE: 7 March, 2022 14h15-15h30

AfHEA’s plenary on the first day of the event encourages members and partners to reflect contemporary global health issues that require research and policy to address. This year’s topic is on ‘Building back better health systems: the role of innovation, multi-sectoral approaches and global financial architecture in building resilient health systems in Africa.’ Several speakers, including Joe Kutzin, Unit Head of the health financing team at WHO in Geneva, will be sharing their experience and expertise during this session to set the focus of the conference. The session will be moderated by Cheryl Cashin, Managing Director at Results for Development.


How have adjustments in public financial management and strategic purchasing contributed to COVID-19 health sector response? Lessons for building back better.

DATE: 7 March 2022, 15h45 – 17h00 CET

The COVID-19 crisis has exposed systemic public financial management (PFM) bottlenecks in health spending. It has forced countries to adapt their PFM systems to provide greater financial flexibility and to tailor accountability systems to respond to this unprecedented crisis. Similarly, countries had to reconfigure their purchasing arrangements to respond to new and different demands for services. PFM and purchasing arrangements are closely related calling for a joint focus for research and policy advice.

The session will share global and country perspective on countries’ PFM and strategic purchasing aspects of the health response to COVID-19. It will discuss barriers and enablers for an effective response, key adjustments that were introduced in countries to facilitate the health sector response, and lessons for how to rebuild and strengthen PFM systems and strategic purchasing arrangements to make them more responsive to future pandemics and capable to sustain efforts towards UHC.

Hélène Barroy, Senior Public Finance Expert, WHO/HQ
Jonatan Daven, Economist, National Treasury, South Africa
Inke Mathauer, Senior Health Financing Specialist, WHO/HQ
Aaron Asibi Abuosi, Associate Professor Health Policy and Management, University of Ghana
Danielle Serebro, The Collaborative Africa Budget Reform Initiative, South Africa


Decentralization: friend or foe to public financial management in
Co-organized between ThinkWell and WHO/HQ

DATE: 7 March 2022, 17h15 – 18h30 CET

In recent decades, most countries around the world have embarked on decentralization processes that affect
health service delivery. Concurrently, public financing has grown faster than any other source of health
expenditure, leading to increased attention to how effectively, efficiently, and equitably governments spend
public money on health. As a result, public financial management (PFM) systems are increasingly recognized
as key enablers of effective health financing reforms towards universal health coverage. In many settings,
health system performance depends on coherence among decentralization, PFM, and health financing
reforms—where they are disconnected or poorly coordinated, service delivery can suffer. Despite these
important relationships, only recently have there been focused efforts to systematically assess how
decentralization affects PFM processes and, in turn, health service provision. There remains a lack of
understanding among many health stakeholders about how PFM operates and how functional and financial
roles are distributed and fulfilled in decentralized contexts. Consequently, to guide suitable policy responses,
there is a need to further unpack PFM processes and identify bottlenecks affecting health service delivery in
decentralized countries.

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 World Health Organization to document the decentralization and PFM dynamics
shaping the health systems of eight counties: Burkina Faso, Indonesia, Kenya, Mozambique, Nigeria, the
Philippines, Tanzania, and Uganda. 

Michael Chaitkin, ThinkWell, Uganda
Marie-Jeanne Offosse, ThinkWell, Burkina Faso
Salomão Lourenço, ThinkWell, Mozambique
John Kinuthia, International Budget Partnership, Kenya
Hélène Barroy, Senior Public Finance Expert, WHO/HQ


Operationalizing efficiency: opportunities, constraints, and necessities

DATE: 8 March 2022, 15h15 – 16h30 CET

The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the underlying weaknesses and fragility of health systems.  This fragility stems not only from underinvestment, but also from the way in which investments (both donor and domestic) have been channeled to support health objectives.  Programmatically oriented investments that focus on single objectives often at the expense of overall system strengthening have been shown to be neither efficient nor adaptable.  As emerging threats arise, whether from pandemics, climate change, or other health problems, health systems and the financing that underpins them, will need to be flexible and nimble to protect and respond. 

Given these realities, no country can afford to manage resources inefficiently.  All resources need to be used across the system to meet immediate health needs, while preparing and adapting to future demands.  This session will focus on these adaptations in how funds are channeled, and systems are organized to promote efficiency, sustainability, and adaptability.  Evidence generated through country studies will form the basis of the presentations and related discussions.  This concrete evidence about the costs of fragmentation is needed to identify opportunities for reform that can improve the efficient use of resources in a way that best aligns with overall health system-level objectives and needs.

Alexandra Earle, Technical Officer, WHO/HQ
Ama Fenny, Senior Research Fellow, ISSER, University of Ghana
Christabel Abewe, Health Financing Officer, WHO/Uganda
Diane Muhongerwa, Health Financing Technical Officer, WHO/AFRO
Ghada Muhjazi, Technical Officer, WHO/EMRO
Juliet Nabyonga, Acting WHO Representative in Kenya, WHO
Kingsley Addai Frimpong, Health Financing Technical Officer, WHO/Ghana 
Susan Sparkes, Health Financing Specialist, WHO/HQ


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here