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3rd NHA Symposium Termed ‘Great Success’ by 120 Participants from 41 Countries

NHA panel of expertsParticipants from 41 countries gathered in San Francisco June 13-14 to attend the third Global Symposium on National Health Accounts (NHA). Sponsored again by PHRplus and the Swedish International Development Agency (Sida) through the Swedish Institute for Health Economics, the symposium drew positive reviews from the 120 participants. The event is held every other year in conjunction with the International Health Economics Association (iHEA) biennial conference.

As in past years, participants ranged from diverse backgrounds of policymakers, country experts, health economists, university professors, and donor representatives. The success of the symposium testifies to the growing global interest and utility of NHA as a comprehensive way to measure national expenditures on health.

L-R Karen Cavanaugh (USAID),  Kei Kawabata (WHO), Jack Langenbrunner(WB)The theme for the 3rd Symposium was “Measuring Today, Planning for Tomorrow” – a reference to NHA as an effective tool to measure the “financial pulse” of a national health system and its potential use to effectively inform the policy-making process – a theme that was repeated and reinforced throughout the symposium.

Keynote speaker, Dr. Jacques Baudouy, director of the Health, Nutrition, and Population Sector of the Human Development Network, World Bank, spoke of the achievements and challenges of the bank’s involvement in NHA and its impact on the bank’s agenda. His presentation cited examples of how NHA is used to reveal sizeable household out-of-pocket expenditures, estimate future health expenditures, allocate resources, and develop health reform plans. He noted the World Bank’s strong interest in using NHA to issue loans and grants and to emphasize institutionalization and the formation of global partnerships for the advancement of NHA.

There was also an address by Dr. Patrick Kadama of the Uganda Ministry of Health, who outlined how the findings from the first round of NHA helped Uganda policymakers prioritize health financing on the national political agenda, mobilize supplemental sectoral funding, and reallocate money towards primary services.

Producer’s Guide

Patricia Hernandez (WHO)One of the symposium’s highlights was the release of the long-anticipated Producer’s Guide, which was presented in a session by a unified body of representatives from the World Health Organization (WHO), the World Bank, USAID, and OECD. This was followed immediately by a joint presentation from a panel of NHA experts who contributed to the development of the Guide. The panel stressed and reiterated the message made by donor collaborators that the Guide is a work in progress. A technical panel of NHA experts is being assembled to respond to questions or concerns that are anticipated to arise as the Guide is consulted and used worldwide. Guidelines on how the panel of NHA experts should be formed and its functions are still being developed.

PHRplus has been developing a NHA training manual and is completing revisions to adopt changes from the Guide. This manual is available to all partners and collaborators and will be used for future training events. Recently, the training manual was used by WHO and PHRplus for the EMRO Regional NHA Network Training Workshop held in Cairo, Egypt from June 29th to July 3rd. Work is underway to utilize the manual for training events in LAC, Pacific Region, India, East Africa, West and Central Africa, and the Commonwealth of Independent States region.

In response to growing demand for conducting NHA sub-analyses, the symposium also highlighted presentations on specialized NHA studies, namely on HIV/AIDS, maternal and child health, aging, and sub-national accounts. It was evident from the presentations and discussions that the NHA methodological framework has yielded good preliminary results when applied to conduct sub-national analyses. PHRplus has developed and is field-testing a NHA HIV/AIDS sub-analysis, and is working closely with a consortium led by the UNAIDS to standardize the methodology.

L-R Shamim Ara Begum and Nahid Akter JahanThe momentum of the symposium continued with the keynote address delivered by Dr. Julio Frenk, Minister of Health of Mexico, at the International Health Economics Association 4th World Congress. In his address, entitled “Globalization with a Human Face: Health, Development, and Security,” Dr. Frenk highlighted NHA as a “novel analytical tool” which uses international methods to capture country information to influence the health reform process.

In their closing remarks, symposium sponsor representatives Karen Cavanaugh of USAID and Par Eriksson of Sida recognized and thanked the participants and organizers for the success of the symposium. They acknowledged the overwhelming interest and need to continue the promotion and development of NHA methodology for both national policy interest and international comparability. Ms. Cavanaugh and Mr. Eriksson also expressed their institutional support for continuing their collaborative funding of the NHA Symposia, and invited everyone to meet again in Barcelona, Spain in July 2005 for the 4th biennial Global Symposium on NHA.

The NHA symposia are organized and sponsored by USAID and Sida with the support and participation of the World Bank and WHO.

Presentations from the 3rd NHA Symposium and Survey

A copy of the agenda and participant list is posted here and NHA presentations can be downloaded from the agenda. Survey for Symposium participants.

For more information, please e-mail NHA coordinator Susna De at or fax PHRplus Project, Bethesda, Maryland USA, at 301-913-0562.

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