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Building Resilient and Equitable National Health Systems

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Speakers
Dr Ines Hassan
Dr Justin Koonin
Prof Senait Fisseha
Dr Ravi Rannan-Eliya
Dr Richard Mihigo
Date & Time
10:00am, 21 June 2022 - 11:30am, 21 June 2022
Location
Kigali, Rwanda
About the event

Overview

Resilient and equitable health systems are those that can prepare for and effectively respond to crises; protect human life and produce good health outcomes for all. Throughout the Commonwealth, the past two years have laid bare the fragility and inequality of many national health systems, and the apparent incapacity of international systems and institutions to provide practical support. What can be done internally to help build up health systems?  What role could – or should – international institutions including the Commonwealth play? How can we work to advance universal health coverage (UHC) as a fundamental component of the right to health?

Context

This session will explore the need for strengthened health systems at local and international levels as a key driver in securing UHC– and the ways in which that can happen, including through more effective coordination and collaboration between Commonwealth countries.

The past several years have served to highlight the many, interrelated factors that must come together to ensure strong national and global health systems: there must be adequate attention to the social and economic determinants of health; governance structures must enable financial and human resources to be mobilised, deployed and reconfigured in order to deliver services as and where needed; there must be capacity to implement evidence-based policies and actions and, critically, to involve citizens in making decisions that affect their lives. At the international level, there is a clear and urgent need to improve the ways in which support and assistance are delivered, most especially in health emergencies.

As we emerge from a global pandemic that has blighted lives, livelihoods, and economies across the Commonwealth, it is timely for us to reflect on what went wrong – why so many national health systems faltered or failed and why our global systems for cooperation and support have proved inadequate to what is needed. Applying our knowledge of how good health systems are developed and sustained, we can use insights from these recent experiences to move forward in building the resilient and equitable health systems that are so critical for the realisation of universal health coverage.

Key questions for the session

What can civil society do? What role does civil society play in developing strong, resilient and equitable health systems? What kinds of partnerships (with government and the private sector) seem to work? How can civil society have a greater voice in pushing for UHC?

What role for the Commonwealth:  How did the Commonwealth’s commitment to solidarity play out in the pandemic? Can the Commonwealth do better in supporting progress towards stronger national health systems and UHC and what should be our main priorities? What parts of the Commonwealth need to be involved and how might this happen?

Speakers
Dr Ines Hassan Moderator
Dr Justin Koonin Panellist
Prof Senait Fisseha Panellist
Dr Ravi Rannan-Eliya Panellist
Dr Richard Mihigo Panellist
Moderator
Dr Ines Hassan

Ines Hassan is a Senior Policy Researcher at the Global Health Governance Programme at the Usher Institute, University of Edinburgh.

She spent more than ten years in the biopharmaceutical industry, focusing on manufacturing and commercialisation strategy. Six years ago, she moved into the world of Global Health and has since supported multiple global organisations on high-level engagements, including the World Health Organization (WHO), the Scottish Covid-19 Advisory Group, the Royal Society’s Data Evaluation and Learning for Viral Epidemics (DELVE), the Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparation and Response (IPPPR) and the International Science Council.

She holds a Masters and Doctorate of Engineering (EngD) in Biochemical Engineering from University College London, and a PG Diploma in Global Health Policy (University of Edinburgh)

Panellist
Dr Justin Koonin

Justin Koonin is co-chair of UHC2030 the international multistakeholder partnership for Universal Health Coverage. He is also co-chair of the WHO Social Participation Technical Network and of the SDG3 Global Action Plan Civil Society Advisory Group, a civil society representative to the Access to COVID Tools Accelerator (ACT-A), and a member of multiple expert WHO panels.

At a national level, Justin is President of ACON (formerly AIDS Council of New South Wales), Australia’s largest civil society organisation working on HIV prevention, care and support, and the health of sexuality and gender diverse people more broadly.

Justin’s work spans a diverse range of sectors. In addition to his efforts in health and human rights, he has worked as a postdoctoral researcher in mathematics at the University of Sydney, as a data scientist at PwC, and (currently) as a fund manager at Allan Gray. He holds a Ph.D. in Pure Mathematics from the University of Sydney, and is a Chartered Financial Analyst charterholder, as well as a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

Panellist
Prof Senait Fisseha

Professor Senait Fisseha is a globally recognized leader in reproductive health & rights. An attorney and a physician, her ability to bring the advocacy, practitioner, and policymaking communities together has fundamentally shifted global conversations around access to reproductive and maternal health services. She currently serves as Director of Global Programs at the Susan Thompson Buffett Foundation, as well as Chief Advisor to the Director General of the World Health Organization.

An Obstetrician and Gynecologist specialist, previously Prof Fisseha was Chief of the Division of Reproductive Endocrinology & Infertility at the University of Michigan, Medical Director of University of Michigan’s Center for Reproductive Medicine and founding Executive Director of the Center for International Reproductive Health Training (CIRHT). She also co-directed the Medical School’s Path of Excellence in Global Health & Disparities.

She was included in the 100 Most Influential Africans for 2018 by New African magazine and the 100 Most Influential People in Gender Policy (2019) and top forty most forward-thinking women (2020) by Athena40. She has received the Ethiopian Ministry of Health’s highest award; University of Michigan’s Bicentennial Alumni Award; the 2019 Distinguished Alumni Award from Southern Illinois University School of Medicine; and the 2020 Distinguished Alumni Award from Southern Illinois University.

Panellist
Dr Ravi Rannan-Eliya

Dr. Ravi P. Rannan-Eliya is a physician and economist who graduated from the University of Cambridge with degrees in political science and medicine. After his internship in the United Kingdom, he specialized in international public health, earning a master’s degree in public health and then his doctoral degree in health economics from Harvard University. From 1993 to 1997, he was a member of the research faculty at Harvard University, where he worked on a series of research projects in Latin America, Africa, and Asia. From 1997, he established and developed the leading health economics research group in Sri Lanka, at the Institute of Policy Studies, before transforming it in 2005 into a full-fledged, independent research center, the Institute for Health Policy, which he now leads. He has undertaken research and consulted in more than 30 countries, working with the World Bank, WHO, ADB, DFID, and other agencies and governments. His current research focuses on issues of health systems financing, aging, equity, and non-communicable disease.

Panellist
Dr Richard Mihigo

Dr Richard Mihigo is the Coordinator of Immunisation & Vaccines Development (IVD) in the WHO Regional Office for Africa in Brazzaville, Congo.

A senior public health specialist, Dr Mihigo has worked from 1994 to 2003 at various senior level positions in the national health system of his native country, Rwanda, including managing the National Immunisation Programme from 2000-2003. He has over 25 years of experience in designing, implementing and evaluating disease control programmes at national and international levels. Dr Mihigo joined WHO in July 2004 and has held the position as Coordinator of the IVD Program since 2014. In this role, he coordinates WHO’s technical support to Member States in the African region in the planning, monitoring, and evaluation of immunisation programmes.

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr Mihigo has been supporting WHO’s response to COVID-19 in the African region as Deputy Incident Manager and is coordinating WHO’s efforts to support countries’ preparedness and deployment of COVID-19 vaccines.

Dr Mihigo holds a Doctorate in Medicine from the University of Kisangani, DR Congo and a Master’s degree in Public Health from the University of Boston, Massachusetts, USA.

Discussion
Location
Kigali, Rwanda
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