Posted on 1 February 2010

By Anya Levy Guyer, Harvard University

More than 70 people from seven countries met in Jordan in early January to participate in the week-long pilot Flagship Course on Pharmaceutical Policy Reform. A collaborative programme conceived and organised by MeTA, the UK Department for International Development (DFID), the World Bank and Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH), the course was designed to apply a pre-existing health policy reform method called ‘the Flagship Framework’ to a specific set of challenges in the pharmaceutical sector.

Course participants were selected because of their involvement with their national MeTA councils in the seven countries: Ghana, Jordan, Kyrgyzstan, Peru, Philippines, Uganda, Zambia. Two participant-observers from Tanzania attended as part of their increasing engagement with MeTA. Representatives of the World Health Organization from the Philippines, Jordan and headquarters in Geneva were also present.

Each country team included at least one representative from each of the three key sectors identified by MeTA: government (including Ministries of Health and drug regulatory agencies), private sector (pharmaceutical producers and distributors) and civil society (patient and citizen advocacy organisations).

The course was taught by two faculty members from the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH), who developed the course materials over the past several months. Professor Marc J. Roberts, an economist, is a professor of Health Policy and Management; Professor Michael R. Reich, a political scientist, is a professor in the department of Global Health and Population.

MeTA, HSPH, DFID and the World Bank were greatly honoured to have the participation of His Excellency Dr. Nayef AL Fayez, the Jordanian minister of health. Dr. Fayez made a few remarks at an evening reception the night before the course began and then opened the proceedings at the launch the following morning. His presence generated some press coverage in the Jordan Times’ English and Arabic versions.

The Flagship framework is a systematic analytical process designed to help identify performance problems in national health systems, diagnose the causes of those problems, and develop effective policy responses. In addition to lecture sessions, each component of the Flagship Framework was also addressed in one or two case study discussions.

The team designed a set of nine new pharmaceutical policy cases specifically for this course including several on MeTA focus country’s experiences. Using case studies allowed the course participants to develop new skills and knowledge while integrating it with their previous experiences and current challenges. This kind of ‘active learning’ is an educational approach explicitly designed for experienced professionals. 

The final component of the educational programme was a ‘Country Group Project’, which the participants were required to undertake primarily on their own time. Participants worked in a team with the others from the same country to systematically apply the Flagship Framework to the pharmaceutical sector and its problems in their own country. An iterative process, the Country Group Projects culminated in a poster presentation on the final day of the course.

Among the planned continued engagement with the course materials, the HSPH team will continue honing the course materials and begin working with MeTA, DFID and the World Bank to schedule additional offerings of the course. The country team members are returning home with a new set of skills and ideas, as well as a model problem definition and set of strategies. All involved have strengthened relationships with others who are working on similar issues, building a network for learning and acting to improve pharmaceutical sector performance at both the national and global levels.

Categories: Ghana, Jordan, Kyrgyzstan, Peru, Philippines, Transparency, Uganda, Zambia

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