Communities of Practices (CoP) that are affiliated to Harmonization for Health in Africa contribute to improve the performance of health systems and the health of the population in Africa through experiences and knowledge sharing. These CoPs are Health Service Delivery (HSD), Financial Access, Performance-based Financing, and Planning and Budgeting. Each of these CoPs focusses on one the six components of a well-functioning health system –leadership and governance; health financing; human resources; health care delivery; health information system; drugs, equipment and other medical supplies.
However, some issues are cross-cutting and though concern all CoPs. Common analyses can help to gather different experts, but most importantly to take into consideration all the perspectives surrounding these issues. The results of this kind of reflection can be endorsed by a larger and diverse group of stakeholders that could guide the improvement of our health systems.
After functioning for several years, facilitators and some members of the CoPs have noted that organizing common activities will strengthen each CoP and build synergies among them. A conference call was organized on July 2014 among facilitators and some CoPs’ members. The key decision was taken to move forward and organize a joint conference in 2015. Many issues were proposed. Finally, ‘drugs’ were chosen for this joint conference of all CoPs.
Indeed, drugs play a key role on health systems, not only as one of the six components of a well-functioning health system, but also as they represent a large proportion of health spending and are required to deliver preventive, promotional and curative care and save lives.
Therefore, we think that a joint conference of CoPs will be a great opportunity to analyze this key issue of African health systems. This will help to identify the main challenges, share innovative experiences, and draw a consensus on the key actions to implement for ensuring availability, access and efficient use of quality drugs. Moreover, this conference is in light with the perspective of improving quality of health care, one the 12 key priorities of action that were adopted during the Dakar conference on the ’25 years of the district health system in Africa’.
The facilitators decided that each CoP should elaborate a concept note related to the conference. For the CoP HSD, we thought that this concept note should reflect the field experiences of its members. Therefore, we invited our members through the online discussion forum to propose their views and ideas. We sincerely thank those who have contributed and in this blog, we sum up their views.
Our members proposed that participants to the conference should be selected through a call for abstracts based on the conference themes. The abstracts showing innovative experiences in the management of drugs and other medical supplies should be selected. Moreover, some key stakeholders from all level of the health systems –technical and financial partners, policymakers, managers and patients-should be invited to the conference. A technical committee will work on the conference content and programme, assess and select the best abstracts.
A participant from Morocco proposed that his country can host the conference.
Themes of the conference
A regional survey could be carried out by the CoPs to enlighten the issue of drugs in Africa. This study could be done using CoPs’ members in each country, and will help to clarify the main problems that countries are facing, the solutions that they have proposed and the results. The survey should be presented at the opening of the conference –setting the scene- in order to give a broad view on the drug issue.
Many themes were proposed by respondents. The most frequent were:
- Drugs in Africa: current situation (results of the regional survey)
- Drugs regulation
- Role of technical and financial partners
- Health system needs and drugs
- Purchasing, supply, distribution and use
- Local and regional production
- Quality and quality assurance systems
- Dealing with illicit drugs
- Impact of vertical programs
- Drug management: role of the district health system
The conference could have inter-CoP’s sessions on transversal issues while other sessions could gather participants of the same CoP. The later sessions can contribute to deeper specific questions related to the specific CoP. Meanwhile, parallel sessions will be organized by theme. Also, plenary sessions could be used to report on other sessions, adopt consensual positions and present some general or transversal issues.
The results of the conference will be largely shared through the CoP’s Newsletters, the online discussion fora, and blog posts. Scientific articles could also be published. Technical and financial partners and the Ministries of health will also be used to disseminate the results.