EU-LUX-WHO UHC Partnership Contributions Showcased at the 4th Global Symposium on Health Systems Research in Vancouver

14 November 2016

The Global Symposium on Health Systems Research takes place every two years, bringing together the full range of players involved in health systems and policy research.   This year in Vancouver, there will be several events directly related to the EU-Luxembourg-WHO UHC Partnership: 

  1. A Satellite session panel discussion – 14 November, 15.00-17.00:  “Is policy dialogue the weak link in creating resilient health systems? Experiences from the EU-Luxembourg-WHO UHC Partnership” The panel will discuss the work of the UHC Partnership, and the types of tangible results which can be achieved at country level despite the non-linear nature of policy dialogue.  The discussion will highlight that policy dialogue does not just happen by itself; it is a political process that requires top-level political commitment and will, as well as adequate investment in terms of effort, prioritization, and resources.  Moderated by the Director of Health Systems, WHO Regional Office for Africa, panellists will include Ministry of Health representatives from Sierra Leone, Mali, Guinea and Liberia, as well as development partners.
  2. The launch of WHO’s flagship national health planning guide, “Strategizing National Health in the 21st Century: A Handbook” – 15 November, 9.00-11.00This handbook is one of the key normative products resulting from the UHC Partnership, and responds to the needs and demands of WHO Member States for up-to-date and practical guidance on how to develop, implement, monitor and review strong national health sector strategic plans (NHSSPs), as a foundation for resilient and responsive health policies and systems.  The launch session, chaired by Dr Carissa Etienne, Regional Director of WHO’s Regional Office for the Americas, will be in the form of a panel discussion bringing together potential users of the Handbook (2 Ministers of Health and 2 Directors of Planning), with donors and development partners.

Selected chapters of the Handbook will be briefly presented (in blue):

  1. Overarching chapter – new approaches for NHSSPs towards UHC
  2. Needs and expectations: consultation of the population
  3. Situation analysis: a comprehensive exercise
  4. Priority setting: participatory decision making process
  5. Transforming priorities into a national health strategy
  6. Operationalizing plans
  7. Costing a NHSSP and fiscal space
  8. Health budgets and the budgeting process
  9. Monitoring and evaluation, including sector reviews: joint process
  10. Laws and regulation for national health planning
  11. Decentralization and national health planning
  12. Fragile states and national health planning 
  1. A panel session will bring together three country experiences with decentralization, namely Kenya, Pakistan and Philippines – 16 November, 11.30-13.00. The session entitled “Building resilience into decentralized health systems” will present and discuss the introduction of decentralized models of health system governance in the context of devolution, examining the processes as well as the results of the implementation of these models on health system resilience. It will emphasize institutional factors, legal frameworks and governance arrangements in decentralized contexts, that impact resilience. Cross-cutting lessons from the three country examples will attempt to answer the following questions:
  • How do health systems adapt and evolve to internalize decentralization? What are the required institutional reforms and legal frameworks that facilitate this?
  • How can health systems seize the opportunity of decentralization to build more resilient and adaptive institutions designed to deliver integrated people centered health services?
  • How can health systems seize the opportunity of decentralization to build health systems that are coordinated, responsive and place the needs of people and communities at the center of their operation?

Even if those countries are not (yet) part of the UHC-P, this session should inform decentralization processes in partner countries. 

4.  A panel session will be organized Friday 18 November with some research partners (Université de Montréal) involved in the EU-Luxembourg / WHO UHC Partnership. During the session “Understanding causes of inequitable coverage of social health protection programmes: do knowledge paradigms matter for research and policy?” health systems researchers will seek to explain causes of policy success and failure, yet causality is unresolved in social science. We will use three different knowledge paradigms (positivism, critical realism, social constructionism) to explain inequity in social health protection in India, Senegal and Togo and will ask a WHO policymaker whether theory matters. The session will be chaired by Pr. Valéry Ridde.

5. A satellite session: “Health Programs and Universal Health Coverage (UHC): addressing facility and system-wide inefficiencies will take place on Tuesday, 15 November.  The purpose of this session is to focus global and country debates about “health programs and health systems” on efficiency issues created by fragmented approaches that can diminish the potential achievement of both programmatic and system-wide objectives.   Approaches developed and used in case studies by WHO and the Global Fund will be analysed and applied. The session will mix short presentations, discussions and hands-on case study learning and will be chaired by Joe Kutzin, Coordinator of Health Financing, Department of Health Systems Governance and Financing at WHO, and Michael Borowitz, Chief Economist, The Global Fund. 

For more information, consult the Symposium website: