Aligning Universal Health Coverage efforts with Primary Health Care (PHC) objectives is a high priority for many Joint Learning Network (JLN) member countries. Recently JLN member countries had the opportunity to deeply engage with this issue in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, where the JLN, in collaboration with Indonesian hosts, supported three joint learning events focused on PHC.
JLN's PHC Initiative held two collaborative workshops – Private Sector Engagement (Feb 28-March 1) and Health Benefits Policy (March 3-4), alongside an international seminar "Current Update of PHC Development: Lessons Learned Across Countries" convened by the Indonesian Government on March 2. The three events gave opportunity to JLN countries to discuss challenges and hear each other's experiences relating to PHC reform. The workshops were attended by total of eight member countries. Partners from USAID, HFG, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and ACCESS Health International also attended the workshops.
Private Sector Engagement Collaborative Workshop
For many countries, ensuring access to high quality PHC services involves active stewardship and engagement of both public and private sectors. To accomplish this, members of the JLN’s Private Sector Engagement Collaborative are developing a five-part guide to support governments in engaging private providers in PHC. Two critical elements of stewardship are an effective regulatory framework that includes protections and incentives that promote access to quality care, as well as effective processes for contracting with private providers. Members shared country experiences; brainstormed contracting constraints and discussed existing global resources on regulating and contracting with the private sector; validated a jointly developed guide for conducting country case studies on regulation; and identified next steps for co-generating knowledge on contracting with the private sector. The members agreed on a timeline for continued learning exchange activities through 2017.
Health Benefits Policy Collaborative Workshop
Many JLN countries begin their effort to expand access to PHC by creating or modifying a PHC benefits package. Some, like Indonesia, are expanding services to specific patient populations, while others are making their package more explicit to rein in costs and ensure sustainability for social health insurance schemes. JLN's Health Benefits Policy Collaborative workshop discussed the importance of creating a holistic and comprehensive health benefits policy when modifying a PHC benefits package. A holistic policy should encompass everything from planning for robust outreach and education regarding benefit changes, to ensuring providers are adequately prepared for drastic changes in the demand for certain primary care services. The jointly created health benefits policy framework is emblematic of this approach. It encourages policy makers to engage with the entire policy environment to ensure country PHC objectives are met. Throughout 2017, the policy collaborative group will document country case studies to build global knowledge on country experiences modifying their health benefits policy for PHC. By the end of the workshop, country teams had validated a case study guide that incorporates policy framework and agreed on country-specific implementation plans.
PHC Lessons Learnt International Seminar
Keen to expand joint learning opportunities to a wider range of health sector actors, Indonesia’s Ministry of Health and BPJS-Kesehatan invited countries to share their experiences in expanding access to PHC with Indonesia’s subnational health administrators. For example, Ghana described its efforts to engage private providers in delivering PHC, and Vietnam discussed its ongoing process for developing a basic health service package. Participants also learned about Indonesia’s health policy reforms, and engaged in dialogue about common challenges with Indonesian researchers, policymakers, and administrators.
Developing Practical Tools through Joint Learning
Holding workshops and seminars like these are essential elements of the JLN approach to enabling country reforms for UHC through joint learning and co-production of knowledge. Not only do these events support development of global knowledge products, but they also foster a community of health policy-makers and practitioners in similar stages of health reform who can learn and share their experiences with one another for effective problem-solving.
JLN's Private Sector Engagement and Health Benefits Policy collaboratives will continue to develop PHC related knowledge products throughout the year. The practical guide on Private Sector Engagement is targeted for release early 2018. The Health Benefits Policy Framework is planned for dissemination in April, while the case studies being developed by both collaboratives will be synthesized and shared in the fall of 2017.