LNCT Member Newsletter January 2019

LNCT Updates

Learning Network for Countries in Transition: 2019 Activities
Looking ahead to 2019, LNCT will continue to collaborate with network partners and member countries to provide both in-person and virtual learning engagements based around member-identified priority topics Including vaccine procurement, vaccine hesitancy, and immunization and UHC. Specific activities underway for 2019 include:

  • LNCT Steering Committee: The steering committee, comprised of country representatives, network coordinators, and global development partners, will convene in early February to review the network’s 2019 workplan and begin planning for the network-wide meeting.
  • Network-wide meeting: The network-wide meeting is planned for June. Please look for more information in future newsletters.
  • Country membership: LNCT will be reviewing its membership criteria to allow fully self-financing countries broader access to LNCT resources and to ensure that countries receive the support needed for a successful transition.
  • Regional vaccine procurement workshops: In partnership with UNICEF Supply Division, LNCT will conduct three regional workshops to address vaccine procurement. The first will be held for the European countries in April in Tbilisi, Georgia. Specific topics will be tailored for each region.

Four Things Ministers of Finance Need to Know about Immunization in Gavi Transitioning Countries
The Ministry of Finance is a crucial ally for Ministries of Health and country immunization programs aiming to successfully manage the Gavi transition. Ministries of Health, Ministries of Finance, Ministries of Budget, and development partners often have separate planning processes, which can make it difficult to plan for the needs of changing immunization programs as they move toward self-sustainability. Our new blog post outlines four essential points for Ministry of Finance staff in Gavi transitioning countries.

LNCT Webinar Materials Now Available
LNCT is pleased to share presentation materials from two recent webinars held in November and December:

  1. Ask Gavi Session 1: Q&A on Post-Transition Country SupportThis webinar focused on Gavi post-transition country support requests. Joanna Wisniewska, IF&S Senior Program Manager discussed the post-transition support process and provided an update on country support requests. Mr. Alexei Ceban, National Agency for Public Health, Moldova, provided insight based on Moldova’s recently submitted post-transition support request.
  2. Producing Immunization Expenditure Data for Policy and PlanningJointly hosted with Abt Associates, this webinar focused on producing and using immunization spending data for decision-making. Participants learned how countries transitioning from Gavi funding can produce better immunization spending data, and how this data can be analyzed and presented to inform policy and planning.

Country Spotlight

Lao PDR Builds Capacity to Manage Health Sector Transition
This post originally appeared in the World Bank’s quarterly Multi-Donor Trust Fund for Externally Financed Programs. 
Lao PDR health officials participated in a 5-day flagship course last month to prepare for tackling health reform, sustainable financing and implementation of Universal Health Coverage (UHC) as their country goes through a period of financing and epidemiological transition.

The Flagship Course on Health Sector Reform and Financing in a Transition Context, held in Luang Prabang from December 10-14, 2018, was organized by the Lao PDR’s Ministry of Health, the World Bank, Gavi, Global Fund and the Government of Australia. It was the first “transition-focused” flagship course globally and was also customized for the context of transition in the Lao PDR. The course was designed to enhance the understanding of Lao health officials about reform and financing as the country experiences the transition of reducing external financing and increasing domestic resource mobilization for health.

It covered a complete range of knowledge and skills including diagnosis for health sector reform and sustainable financing, introducing the key concepts of UHC, health financing and service delivery, and providing a systematic framework for thinking and problem solving for health sector reforms. Over 70 participants joining the course also learned about raising revenues and finding additional resources, assessing performance and strategies to improve efficiency and equity of service delivery, and identifying regulatory changes needed for prioritized reforms.

The Flagship course was aimed at technical level officials in the Ministry of Health in Vientiane and in the provinces. Select representatives from other related ministries, development partners (including WHO and UNICEF), and local and international academia also participated.

Highlights from our Partners

New Review Framework from CHAI Helps EPI Programs Address Procurement Challenges
CHAI recently developed a review framework to help EPI programs better understand the disruptions and challenges pertaining to procurement that might result from Gavi transition and identify a way forward without compromising vaccine coverage. In close collaboration with EPI teams and partners, CHAI assessed current procurement processes and identified challenges along the following 4 dimensions – governance and regulations, planning, execution, and evaluation. We are pleased to share a high-level review of these findings. Looking ahead, CHAI is in the process of finalizing these assessments and they have begun co-developing with government multi-year mitigation plans. CHAI also intends to bring in-country lessons and test cases to the global level to inform policy and future investments. Please do not hesitate to reach out to CHAI for any questions or clarifications.

New Resources to Help Transitioning Countries Strengthen NITAGs
The third Global NITAG Network (GNN) meeting, held December 6-7th, 2018 in Ottawa, was jointly organized by the Public Health Agency of Canada and the World Health Organization.  NITAG representatives from 26 countries came together to share their challenges, success stories, and lessons learned, as well as to help provide guidance on future GNN activities. This year’s focus was on building NITAG structures through strong secretariats, implementation of conflict of interest policies, and NITAG evaluation. The GNN is encouraging NITAGs to conduct an external evaluation or perform a self-assessment with the tool developed by partners. The assessment tool will be available publicly soon.

The group also discussed the 2019 GNN work plan and decided to prioritize the development of a NITAG twinning approach (i.e. a more developed NITAG provides support to a NITAG in an earlier stage of development), the redesigning of the NITAG Resource Center, supported by Gavi and the CDC, and the establishment of a working group to support the finalization of a standard NITAG training material set. This annual meeting and its outcomes are crucial in ensuring that the Global Vaccine Action Plan target of all countries having a functional NITAG by 2020 is reached.

Featured Resources

New Case Study on Armenia’s Transition to Program-based Budgeting
WHO’s new case study of ongoing budget reform in Armenia finds that Armenia’s gradual transition to program-based budgeting has improved the National Assembly’s ability to assess the extent to which budgets are consistent with policy and track program performance through the introduction of indicators for quantity, quality and timeliness of health services.

Armenia’s National Immunization Program is a consolidated activity within the Public Health Program, tracked by seven quantitative indicators, which has lent it visibility and may have contributed to a nearly 12-fold increase in immunization funding over the last decade. Armenia’s transition to program-based budgets is part of a larger series of reforms that began in the 1990s, which has included the development of a public Basic Benefits Package, primary health care reform, the introduction of output-based provider payments, civil service reform, and devolution of responsibility for health care providers to the regional and local levels. Armenia continues to build on these reforms to improve links between policy priorities and program budgets, strengthen the performance measurement framework, more fully transition budget appropriation from the activity to the program level, and strengthen the role of program managers.

Looking Ahead

Upcoming Webinars Hosted by UNICEF Vaccine Procurement Practitioners Network (VPPN)
UNICEF’s VPPN will conduct two upcoming webinars that are applicable to LNCT members. The first webinar, to be held at the end of January will focus on Vaccine Budgeting & Financing and the second one, tentatively scheduled for February 27th, will center around vaccine pricing. For more information, please login to the VPPN using your VPPN account credentials. LNCT will also share additional details on our website as they become available.

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