The Policy Support Observatory Holds its Second Guiding Committee Meeting to Discuss the Work-Program
The Policy Support Observatory (PSO) held its second Guiding Committee meeting on October 4, 2018 to discuss the PSOs work-program. The meeting was chaired by the Director General of the Ministry of Health Dr. Walid Ammar, and attended by the WHO Representative in Lebanon Dr. Iman Shankiti, the Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences at the AUB Dr. Iman Nuwayhid, the WHO National Professional Officer Dr. Alissar Rady, Head of Vital Statistics Department Ms. Hilda Harb, Head of Public Relations and Health Education Department Dr. Rasha Hamra, experts Dr. Wim Vanlerberghe, Dr. Abdelhay Mechbal, Dr. Nabil Kronfol, and Dr. Ghassan Hamadeh and the observatory’s Associate Coordinator Ms. Sawsan Allam.
In his opening message, Dr. Ammar, reintroduced the PSO as being an instrument to be integrated but not incorporated within the Ministry. Amidst the current debates happening at the parliament on financing healthcare and covering expensive drugs, Dr. Ammar highlighted how this work plan prepares the system and contributes to steering it in a way which complies with universal health coverage (UHC) principles and is in line with the strategies of the MoPH.
Dr. Vanlerberghe then explained how the mode of operation of the PSO is structured around a set of “projects” having identifiable boundaries so that they do not create a duplicate system within the Ministry. He emphasized two criteria for the choice of the projects and these are: relevance to the Ministry’s agenda and presence of a current opportunity to move their subject areas forward. Twenty-three projects were described under four main categories: improving MOPH readiness and establishing the PSO; improving service provision, operations and financing- this category comprises the largest portion of projects and the essence of activities to move towards UHC; intelligence and information; and policy dialogue- to reinforce the collaborative governance approach of the Ministry.
Participants then engaged into a discussion around different components of the work-program while giving particular attention to the National Health Forum which is core to the PSO’s mission of involving the Ministry’s various collaborative networks and enhancing social consensus around shared health sector policies. They distinguished between the Forum’s two concepts: the event or conference, and the platform for continuous dialogue among stakeholders. Attendees agreed that the event would present an avenue to dialogue with the public, manage their expectations hence discuss topics that are timely with the population’s interest and with the political demands, yet being in harmony with the strategic directions and rational decision-making of the health sector. Meanwhile, the platform of communities of practice would bring together stakeholders and professionals into groups, spanning over a period of time, so that they share their ideas and experiences around certain themes and suggest mechanisms to move related policies forward.
The meeting concluded with the members agreeing that this is an ambitious program of work and not all components can start at the same time or move sequentially at the same speed. Therefore, projects one and two related to operationalizing the PSO and establishing the readiness of the MoPH were identified as being a top priority, then certain work-packages within the other projects will be chosen to begin with. The meeting also highlighted that the PSO should proceed with preparing for the National Health Conference and laying its grounds. Dr. Ammar reported the satisfaction of His Excellency Minister Hasbani with the progress made to establish the PSO and his support to the work program while participants endorsed it as well. Several members pointed out how the PSO initiative, which has barely started, attracted a lot of attention in the region whereby several countries have approached them to learn from this experience. Therefore, the high expectations stir the drive to reach the desired results, through open collaborations which characterises the Ministry’s style of work.