60 seconds with… Dr Justice Nonvignon

By Madeleine Stewart Sep. 14, 2018

iDSI caught up with Dr Justice Nonvignon, a senior lecturer and health economist at the University of Ghana, ahead of a special event in Accra later this month that focuses on sustainable policies for effective resource allocation in Africa. As part of the two-day event, Justice will lead on a workshop session highlighting international case studies of Health Technology Assessment (HTA) implementation.

The ‘setting priorities fairly’ event is the first of its kind for Sub Saharan Africa (SSA), with the main event opened by Ghana’s Minister for Health, Kwaku Agyemang-Manu. How important is it for representatives from SSA to share knowledge to optimise the impact of health spending?

The prospect of HTA in SSA is promising, with an increasing number of countries planning to use HTA as a priority-setting tool to promote Universal Health Coverage (UHC). In the light of this, it is crucial that SSA countries share experiences (however little) to learn from each other.

What can attendees to your workshop session on case studies of how Health Technology Assessment can inform decisions on cost-effectiveness expect?

Attendees can expect to learn what has been done already, especially in the case of Ghana and how that applies to their specific country context.

Ghana was the first Sub Saharan African country to introduce a National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) and has long standing commitment towards achieving UHC, of course, there is no “one-size-fits-all” approach to UHC, but what is on Ghana’s agenda?

Ghana’s road to UHC through the NHIS has been brave and bumpy, with key challenges relating to financial sustainability. However, given the political support – from all sides of the political divide – the future of the NHIS is bright. A key approach is expanding enrolment through innovative strategies including group enrolment, enrolment of prison inmates etc. In addition, there are efforts to boost the financial status of the NHIS while removing other bottlenecks to promote UHC. A key way forward is re-visiting the Primary Health Care agenda to strengthen close-to-client services and implement provider payment mechanisms that reduce overall service costs and enhance sustainability of the scheme. The overall improvements in the economy could boost fiscal space for health and fast-track attainment of UHC.

You have led on a number of research projects on health economics and policy in Ghana, Botwsana, Kenya, Malawi and Nigeria – what has been your biggest achievement?

My joyous moments (which I see as achievements) are when I see that recommendations from a previous study I was involved in are evaluated and implemented. A typical example was when the Ministry of Health and World Health Organization in Botswana accepted the findings and recommendations of our study on efficiency and begun planning to implement.

What do you enjoy most about your role?

I enjoy seeing my former students in decision-making roles, applying some of the things they learnt. I also enjoy being involved in discussions and networking (with networks such as the platform that iDSI provides) that are directly relevant for evidence-informed policy making in low- and middle-income countries, particularly efforts that benefit Ministries of Health.

If you weren’t a health economist, what would you be doing instead?

I would have been a geomorphologist, studying earth formations.

Registered delegates can attend the workshop Justice will feature in, ‘Introduction to Health Technology Assessment’, from 1pm on 26 September 2018, as part of Setting priorities fairly: sustainable policies for effective resource allocation in Africa.