5th AfHEA Biennial Scientific Conference – Securing PHC for all: the foundation for making progress on UHC in Africa

With thanks to Liam Crosby

iDSI contributed extensively to the 5th Biennial African Health Economics and Policy Association (AfHEA) conference 2019, including organising 10 sessions and bringing over 30 researchers and experts to the conference, strengthening our collaborations with African partners. The conference occurred as iDSI turns its focus increasingly towards Africa, working to support decision-making and health priority-setting across the continent.

iDSI kicked off the week with a pre-conference session on applying health economics for immunisation, delivered with Teaching Vaccine Economics Everywhere. Through the conference we ran 10 sessions covering a range of topics on how African countries can use clear decision-making processes as they strive towards UHC. These sessions brought practitioners and policymakers together to identify cost-effective pathways towards achieving UHC and primary healthcare (PHC) for all, the theme of the conference.

As importantly, and true to iDSI’s collaborative nature, the conference was a great opportunity for our network to come together. From Australia to Zambia, it was a great chance for us to bring the iDSI family together so that network partners could continue to share knowledge and provide support to policymakers and researchers across the globe.

Key takeaways

  • There is a huge momentum towards UHC and PHC for all in Africa. With limited resources and growing pressures on healthcare systems, sound decision-making and effective prioritisation will be crucial.
  • Supporting country-owned decision-making in Africa requires understand the priorities and values of decision-makers. iDSI should work to support systems that reflect these local principles. Ethical analysis and explicit consideration of equity concerns can guide such work.
  • At present, health technology assessment and appraisal across Africa is fragmented. Often small teams, based in health ministries and without explicit remit, are conducting HTA in an ad hoc way. There is much value in bringing these users and producers of HTA evidence together; and iDSI is keen to collaborate with AfHEA to develop a community of practice to do just that.

More detail on the key messages can be found in this document.

Preconference workshop – Applied Health Economics in Africa Using Examples from Immunization

iDSI’s AfHEA involvement kicked off with a full house at our pre-conference session, delivered together with Teaching Vaccine Economics Everywhere, on applying health economics to vaccines. This session brought together academics, policymakers in health ministries, officials from multilateral organisations, students and others. Opening the session, David Bishai (Johns Hopkins University) spoke passionately about the need to prioritise within available health budgets, emphasising that “saving money is saving lives”.

The session increased understanding of how health economics tools can be used in resource allocation decisions for health technologies including national essential medicines lists and health benefits packages. iDSI’s interactive components brought the session to life and enabled participants to enhance their learning.

Organised sessions

The iDSI-organised sessions brought together health economics, policy and ethics experts from across the iDSI global network.

Oral sessions

As part of the main conference break-out session, iDSI members presented their work alongside other leading health economists from across Africa.