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A new WHO webinar series on health systems governance and financing

A new WHO webinar series on health systems governance and financing

By Bruno Meessen
on November 12, 2020

Over these last years, under the leadership of Dr Agnes Soucat, the Health Systems Governance and Financing Department of WHO has been pursuing a multi-pronged strategy for the generation and management of knowledge in its area of work. We embraced the view that health systems are complex – this implies that interventions aiming at improving their performance will always face challenges. One could say that progressing towards Universal Health Coverage is writing straight with curved lines. For sure, knowledge on health systems evolves, with unavoidable areas of uncertainty or even disagreement. This is also what makes the field so intellectually fascinating.

Over the last two decades, the community of expertise in our domains of interest has grown steeply and is getting, at last, more diversified. To carry out WHO’s normative mission, we think that it is crucial to engage with all those holding knowledge: practitioners, policy makers, scientists, technical assistants, civil society activists, etc. WHO needs all of them to inspire its work, inform its products and ensure that its contributions at global, regional and country level are the most valuable for populations. As a department, we greatly appreciate the fact that many of you are fully part of the activities organized through collaborative platforms like UHC2030, P4H or the Health Systems Governance Collaborative and its Building the Reset initiative. Working together is the future of our common impact.

The COVID-19 crisis does not only affect populations and health providers; in a less dramatic way, it also perturbs the theories of change of actors like us, whose impact comes through knowledge generation and dissemination. Our priority today is to continue to reinvent our ways of working with all of you. We do not want to lose the relationship we built with many of you, over many years of interaction through courses, conferences and other face-to-face events, be them organized by us or by you. We also feel that WHO’s convening role has, beyond the objectives of the organization, an ecosystem function. We want to maintain it, despite the movement restrictions which are probably here to stay, at least in the medium term.

It is in this spirit that a group of experts at WHO have launched a webinar series dedicated to health systems governance and financing. We want this series to cover a broad range of topics for the full spectrum of countries in our world. As illustrated in our inaugural session which focused on labor-tax funded social health insurance, we will not shy away from controversial topics. The Build Back Better agenda is also about killing some ideas which will jeopardize UHC or health security, if they continue to be pursued. We will also bring some of our latest reflections to the agenda. For instance, next week’s webinar on November 19th will be on Governance in support of Common Goods for Health. The COVID crisis has revealed that many countries, especially high-income countries, obsessed with the improvement of individual health and curative care in particular, were under-investing in institutional arrangements and mechanisms to fulfill some core public health functions. We will also cover topics that we feel, receive too little attention from the global health community – for many reasons, including sometimes their limited appeal to researchers. Our third webinar on December 3rd will be about the management of public finance for health – a mandatory route, given that we all want to step away from out-of-pocket payment, private health insurance and contributory social health insurance.

We have assigned ourselves some editorial rules, in terms of inclusion and format. One of them is to co-organize our sessions with other groups, networks or agencies. Our inaugural webinar was co-organized with the Emerging Voices. Our third one will be co-organized with the Center of Global Development. Do not hesitate to contact us if you see a possible “joint venture” for a specific session. We will also do our best to make our webinar sessions interactive, also by inserting them into broader learning agendas.  

The series builds on the assumption that we can learn from any experience – a view again validated by the COVID-19 crisis. Some framings, logics and hierarchies have come out as false and misleading. If you follow our series, we guarantee you will travel across regions and contexts – well, at least virtually.  Learning – the key word for us – is often about distinguishing universality into a specific experience or story.

We hope that this series will be a helpful contribution to the life of our vibrant health system community. Do not hesitate to register to our mailing list to stay informed about our next sessions.

See you in one of our future sessions!   

About the author: Bruno Meessen wrote this on behalf of the Webinar Editorial Board.

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