Building a network of African institutions to support countries
with health financing reform
Q&A: What is strategic purchasing?
As countries move toward universal health coverage, resources are constrained and funds must be used wisely. Strategic purchasing is one way to get more value for the money spent and ensure equity.
Many countries on the African continent are designing health financing policies to ensure limited funds are used strategically to purchase health services and improve health outcomes. Historically, R4D has engaged directly with countries to support health financing reforms. But, in 2017, we began an initiative to strengthen and elevate the deep health financing expertise in sub-Saharan Africa to lead that support.
With support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, we partnered with Nairobi-based Amref Health Africa, to launch the Strategic Purchasing Africa Resource Center (SPARC), and together we recruited a consortium of 11 Anglophone and Francophone Africa-based academic and policy analysis institutions to support their governments and drive the strategic health purchasing agenda on the continent. These institutions are beginning to deliver technical support, and now offer tailored packages to change agents.
SPARC is becoming a go-to source of expertise for country change agents
In Burkina Faso, SPARC has been facilitating a process to strengthen purchasing arrangements and get more value for money in the country’s free care program for children under 5 and pregnant women.
In Rwanda, SPARC supported the government and other stakeholders to develop a theory of change and framework for the country’s strategic health purchasing agenda. SPARC facilitated these discussions, which led to the formation of a technical working group. Among other priorities, the group is working to update provider payment mechanisms under the Community-Based Health Insurance (CBHI) program — to ensure its financial sustainability while continuing to improve access and quality of care.
Though SPARC was incubated and supported initially by R4D, it now has its own staff and direct funding and is a fully functioning resource center within Amref.
Photos courtesy of SPARC