Governance for Health Equity during the sustainable development goals– Is a vision turning into practice?
The researchers from Brazil, Nepal, and Rwanda shared the findings from the THINK_SDGs country studies at the Health Systems Research 2018 conference in Liverpool. THINK_SDGs is an initiative launched by IDRC in 2016 in partnership with the Global Health Centre, the Graduate Institute. The goal of the initiative is to explore and highlight the roles of different stakeholders such as think tanks in contributing towards the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Three IDRC supported researchers shared country level preparedness around the health-related SDGs. Dr Alfred Bizoza from the University of Rwanda highlighted that five of the health related SDG indicators are fully integrated into the national strategy in Rwanda, five are partially integrated, where as fifteen indicators are still to be integrated. Regarding the question on how the health sector is being financed, it was discussed that 60% of the health budget is financed by the government, whereas 40% by different donors. Dr Bizoza ended by emphasising that the government has to take the lead to ensure SDG indicators are integrated into the national plans.
Dr Rajendra Kumar BC shared that Nepal has been able to prepare a comprehensive plan at a local level to move towards achieving the health-related SDGs, showing Nepal’s dedication and commitment towards the SDGs. Dr Kumar added, however, the financial and technological burden is something that has not been well planned yet. Dr Kumar ended by sharing that the role of the private sector is crucial in the context of Nepal to be able to finance the health system.
“National Commission of SDGs is responsible to ensure the implementation” said Dr Christiane Quental from Brazil, FIOCRUZ as she started. The National Commission has created institutional mechanisms for participatory processes, to generate localised strategy, and to monitor the SDGs. A digital platform is developed which shows all the SDG indicators and compares with the national data. However, Dr Quental noted that these plans will most likely be affected by the 2018 October election. She highlighted how health is political and the election results shall influence what will get funded in the health sector. She ended by highlighting that community engagement, if used apltly, is a tool to ensure equity in Brazil.
The panel sparked a discussion among the audience around the questions - what is happening on the ground. And the session ended with the question - what do SDGs mean by community engagement at a local level? Participants were keen for examples showing citizen involvement in SDG planning and monitoring at a local level. Although there weren't any such examples yet, the session ended in a positive note that there is much acceptance of the need for citizen involvement for the achievement of the SDGs.
Sunisha Neupane, Consultant, Think Tank Initiatives, International Development Research Centre