Thanzi la Onse researchers attended a number of events and meetings in March 2022, to celebrate the achievements of the programme over the past 4 years and engage in discussions with national Universities and Ministries of Health in East Africa, to scope out emerging plans to establish further initiatives which can support equitable partnerships and research-to-policy engagement during ‘phase 2’.
Malawi Dissemination Conference
The Health Economics and Policy Unit (HEPU) at the Kamuzu University of Health Sciences (KUHeS) in Malawi hosted a Thanzi la Onse Dissemination Conference on 8-9 March. The event brought together TLO researchers, policy stakeholders and representatives from the Ministry of Health to collectively reflect on the successes, impacts and outputs facilitated by the TLO programme, and introduce future plans for the continuation and expansion of the HEPU-MOH collaboration to support the generation and exchange of policy-relevant evidence in Malawi and the ECSA region.
Key discussion topics included:
- An overview of the HEPU and TLO programme, including notable successes, reflections and future plans for ‘phase 2’, presented by Joseph Mfutso-Bengo (HEPU) and Paul Revill (CHE). Presenters highlighted the recent expansion of the HEPU team – now including 10 full-time researchers – and contributions by the HEPU during the pandemic, including (i) assessing the cost-effectiveness of quarantining returnees from South Africa and (ii) evaluating the policy of delaying the second COVID-19 jab to 6 months.
- Findings from the Health Technology Assessment (HTA) study and VEDMAP study, and ongoing work to support the MOH in institutionalising HTA, presented by HEPU researchers Faless Jeremiah, Florence Kasende, Dominic Nkhoma, Nthanda Nkungula and Emmanuel Njowe.
- Findings from TLO health economics research topic areas (essential health package, intersectoral resource allocation, service level agreements, health financing) presented by Paul Revill, Sakshi Mohan, Wiktoria Tafesse and Oliver Kaonga (CHE); Dominic Nkhoma and Takondwa Mwase (HEPU); and Gerald Manthalu (MOH).
- Options for institutionalising the HTA in Malawi, and challenges of EHP implementation (Panel session, led by Mr Godfrey Kadewere, Ms Emily Chirwa, Mr Chimenya and Gerald Manthalu from MOH and Dominic Nkhoma and Takondwa Mwase from HEPU).
- Results and capabilities of the TLO all-disease Epidemiological Model, presented by Tim Hallet, Tara Mangal and Asif Tamuri (ICL), Andrew Philips, Joe Collins and Tim Colbourn (UCL), Emmanuel Mnjowe and Wingston Ng’ambi (HEPU) and Sakshi Mohan.
You can watch the live recording of the conference on the HEPU Facebook page.
Planning Future Research and Teaching Activities in Zimbabwe, Zambia and Eswatini
TLO researchers also attended a number of meetings with partners and stakeholders to discuss the next phase of the TLO programme, which will draw on experiences and outputs delivered to date to inform new collaborative initiatives to tackle health resource allocation challenges across the East, Central and Southern Africa (ECSA) and West Africa regions.
Emerging projects which will head-up this work include:
- Global Fund Scoping Project: in December 2021, the University of York and ECSA-HC were commissioned to help coordinate a series of national consultation exercises and dialogues with governments in Sub-Saharan Africa, on behalf of Global Fund. This work will align with priority objectives set-out in The Global Fund’s Sustainability, Transition and Co-Financing Policy, and will aim to support countries to use existing resources more efficiently and increase domestic resource mobilisation. Initiation meetings were held in early 2022 to begin to map-out this work, which will result in the delivery of a number of reports and recommendations on global health policy engagement and health system strengthening processes, to be produced and shared with The Global Fund. Outputs will be developed and delivered by the University of York, ECSA Health Community and other collaborators, who have extensive experience of engagement with senior policy- and decision-makers in Africa.
- Thanzi la Onse-Africa Programme: planning activities are also underway to establish a new TLO-A programme, which aims to draw together the expertise of global health and policy experts to build upon the successful initiatives championed during phase 1, to strengthen capability and research-to-policy practices in the wider region. Scoping meetings were held between the ministries of health of Eswatini, Zambia and Zimbabwe, the universities of Eswatini, Zambia and Zimbabwe, researchers from CHE and ECSA policymakers.
Key takeaway messages from the Malawi Dissemination Conference and scoping meetings:
- The Epidemiological Model is fully running and is ready to be used by the MOH. The Thanzi la Mawa project will facilitate full training for modellers based at HEPU, who will work closely with the MOH Planning Department to run scenarios, respond to decision-making demands and contribute to building local capacity.
- Discussions at the Malawi Dissemination Conference highlighted the collaboration between HEPU and MOH as a best practice example for the ECSA region for the exchange and generation of policy-relevant knowledge.
- TLO is exploring how this approach can best be adapted to address the needs of national MOH planning departments, and other health systems across Africa, as part of the Thanzi la Onse-Africa Partnership (part of TLO ‘phase 2’). Interest has been voiced to establish further initiatives (similar to those championed in Malawi) in other African country settings, to strengthen research-to-policy engagement and policy-relevant evidence generation.
Further news and information about emerging ‘phase 2’ activities will be shared in due course. In the meantime, visit the TLO twitter page (@thanzilaonse) for all up to date news about ongoing programme activities.
By: Steph Richards, Sakshi Mohan, Paul Revill | March 2022