Supporting Public Health Institutes Programme

Quick overview of the Supporting Public Health Institutes Programme


1. Development Cooperation Instrument (DCI)

The Development Cooperation Instrument (DCI) covers cooperation with partner countries and regions, namely: Latin America, Asia, Central Asia, the Middle-East and South Africa. The objectives and general principles of the DCI have been formulated in line with the Lisbon Treaty and the latest policies, notably the 'Agenda for Change' of EU development policy. Its prime objective is the reduction of poverty. It contributes also to the achievement of other goals of EU external action, in particular fostering sustainable economic, social and environmental development as well as promoting democracy, the rule of law, good governance and respect for human rights.

2. Thematic Program “Investing in People”

'Investing in people' is a thematic program that falls under DCI, and it pursues a broad approach to development and poverty reduction, with the general aim of improving human and social development levels in partner countries in accordance with the United Nations Millenium Declaration and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

Under the theme “Good health for all”, it addresses three key health areas: 1) strengthening health systems, improving health services and supporting capacity of partner countries to confront health challenges, 2) confronting main communicable diseases and 3) implementing the Cairo Agenda on sexual and reproductive health.

It further stresses on having stronger involvement of key civil society actors through regional and global initiatives designed to promote the development of South-South links/networks for the purpose of the exchange of practices and experience, sharing of expertise, innovation and coordination for supranational policy advocacy. Capacity development of national authorities to develop and implement robust health policies, strategies and plans is part of aid design and aid delivery. Ensuring alignment of international support to the authorities' own capacity development plans is part of the international agreements on improving aid effectiveness (Busan 2011, Accra and Paris).

In recent years, public health institutes have received comparatively less systematic attention and funding, as health aid and cooperation increasingly focussed on major sector programmes and on annual implementation results in terms of service delivery outputs, whilst domestic allocations are absorbed by more pressing and visible priorities, such as the clinical disciplines; and public health institutes' bargaining power in getting funding is further weakened by brain drain. This initiative is consistent with the EU Role in Global Health principles, notably in its intention to providing support to better governance in the sector, to universal coverage by quality health services, to increased policy coherence across sectors influencing health, and especially in contributing to knowledge generation and its translation into evidence-based decisions. This initiative is in line with the Agenda for Change : firstly, in establishing partnerships between the public, semi-public and private sectors; secondly, in contributing to human development, one of the identified foundations of inclusive and sustainable growth, through better health protection and promotion.

Furthermore, the initiative  targets low-income countries as direct beneficiaries of the support, and middle income countries as indirect beneficiaries in case they are involved as supporting partners; it is seeking complementarity with other EU country actions and other development partners in the health sector, both at national and regional levels.

3. The Programme to Support Public Health Institutes - SPHIP

3.1. Sector context

Over the past decade, health aid has increasingly been guided by results and has concentrated most resources on broad MDG-related service provision programmes. Effective health aid to developing countries depends on various parameters and framework conditions, and it appears nowadays generally accepted that a comprehensive systems approach is needed if sustained impacts are to be achieved.

Effective national health systems which achieve results require coherent, sound and strong health policies, strategies and plans that improve access to quality care, and promote equity and solidarity. Decision-makers, policy-makers and health managers need to be provided the necessary independent situation, and policy analyses and options, and to have access to knowledge and skills development. In these respects, existence of stable public health institutes is of paramount importance.

"Development of policies and institutional capacity for public health planning and management" and related research, "human resources development and training in public health", "evaluation and promotion of equitable access to necessary health services" are amidst the WHO-defined "essential public health functions"  that should be performed in order to improve the health of populations.

Recent initiatives are supporting the importance of renewed and increased support to health policy and research. The World Federation of Public Health Associations launched a Call to Action in April 2012 through the Addis Ababa Declaration on Global Health Equity, stressing notably on "promoting and facilitating the linkage between the academic and public health associations communities" and on "advocating for the utilization of evidence as the basis for formulating healthy public policy and informing practice to reduce health inequity".

On a closely related topic, WHO launched in Beijing, China, on 1st November 2012 the first global strategy on health policy and systems research (HPSR) at the Second Global Symposium on Health Systems Research, notably seeking to unify the worlds of research and decision-making and connect the various disciplines of research, at a time when the health systems mandate is evolving towards broader goals of universal health coverage and equity.

3.2 Objective of the programme

The objective of the Programme "Supporting public health institutes" (SPHIP), funded by DCI – Investing in People, is to support the existence of stable public health institutes as a key component of the development and strengthening of coherent and efficient health systems; it aims at reinvigorating and developing institutes most often lacking sufficient resources to fulfil a significant role in the health sector.

Its main objective is to contribute to human development, through better health protection and promotion and through strategies such as establishing partnerships between the public, semi-public and private sectors, or seeking complementarity with other EU country actions and other development partners in the health sector, both at national and regional levels.

It is acknowledged that public health institutes in developing countries need to be supported in the long-run; a second phase is anticipated for most promising interventions, possibly on a regional or sub-regional basis.

The SPHIP has the overall objective to contribute to the protection and promotion of population’s health through the provision of policy analysis and policy advice.

More specifically the purpose of the programme is to enhance expertise, knowledge and resources of selected schools of public health or public health research –or training- institutes in low-income countries to provide national health authorities and stakeholders with evidence-based and locally adapted policy advice, training and other support to feed decision and policy making and to monitor implementation at national or sub national level.

3.3 Some fields of interventions (the list can be extended as appropiate) :

  • Actions aiming at enhancing capacity of health decision-makers (top- and mid-level management) in health policy making and health aid management:

-        Contribute to the national research agenda and provide evidence and recommendations for effective, efficient and -if possible- innovative health policies leading to progress towards universal coverage and increased health equity, in relevant specialised areas such as surveillance and health information systems, statistics, sector policy dialogue, health financing, health services management, health technology assessment, etc., taking into account various policy/political levels, various public health institutions, relevant sectors other than health, and civil society organisations;

-        Develop and provide training on policy development, implementation arrangements and monitoring, for progress towards universal coverage, for increased health equity, and in relevant specialised areas as needed such as surveillance and health information systems, statistics, sector policy dialogue, health financing, health services management, etc.; training could be directed to scholars as well as policy-makers and implementers;

-        Develop and provide content and options for a more effective and constructive policy dialogue at the sector level in-country;

-        Keep selected institutes’ trainers' and researchers' levels of expertise up-to-date through continued education, established partnership with public health academia and exposure to selected relevant international conferences and symposiums.

  • Actions aiming at increasing knowledge sharing and partnering as well as at increasing utilisation of local health expertise:

-        Foster formal institutional partnering, institutional networking, and peer review mechanisms with local institutions (e.g. public health associations, national institutes of public health; Civil Society Organizations (CSO), Non-State Actors (NSA), sectoral associations or institutions with actions related to public health), South-South or triangular partnerships;

-        Where needed, develop and participate in appropriate in-country consultation platforms for good practice in establishing effective links between the policy/political level, various public health institutions and associations, relevant sectors other than health, and civil society organisations / non-state actors;

-        Linkup with existing public health global or regional networks, for a cross-country exchange and documentation of experiences; (alternatively, if necessary, develop and maintain a regional network);

-        Work with aid implementers towards use of local public health expertise as first or complementary option in health aid policy support.

  • Actions supporting long-term development of selected public health schools or associated research institutes

-        Develop and implement comprehensive multiyear institutes' strategic development plans. This should include comprehensive needs assessment, staff capacity building and continuing education plan on relevant health policy as well as plans for income generation and sustainability strategy, active recruitment and retention strategies, based on a long-term funding strategy;

-        Encourage client-oriented and income-generating services and models that contribute to strengthening the institution;

-        Give high visibility to activities and accomplishments, use existing networks and create opportunities to disseminate results regularly and trigger interest from development partners and other stakeholders.

3.4 Beneficiaries of the programme

3.4.1. Direct beneficiaries are selected schools of public health or associated public health research –and/or training-institutes (including private not for profit) in countries eligible for DCI thematic programmes with a focus on low-income countries. The populations of the countries -where the public health institutes are selected- are the final beneficiaries of the action.

3.4.2. Indirect beneficiaries of the programme are:

• national decision- and policy-makers, mid- and top-level managers in the ministries of health who will be provided by selected institutes with relevant services and products contributing to policy- and decision-making, implementation and monitoring of activities;

• professionals at selected institutes: these national experienced professionals will find new career paths in the region, will be building additional expertise, and benefitting from training of trainers' short courses, as well as gaining exposure to regional and international public health initiatives and research networks.

• other actors or networks in public health, public or private, including non-state actors or civil society organizations, who will be involved in the programme through direct support, formal partnering or collaboration (for example through South-South or triangular cooperation, including middle-income countries), through sharing of expertise and of national, regional or international experiences, through dissemination of results in regional platforms or workshops.

More Information can be found on the following links:

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