The Middle East and North Africa Health Policy Forum
Conference on “Better Policies for Better Health”
September 8-10, 2007
Background | Objectives | Audience | Language
The interplay between health and development is well documented. Both the World Development Report 1993 and the WHO Report on the Commission on Macroeconomics and Health (2001) have highlighted the importance of investing in health for economic development and vice versa. While the impact of economic development on health status through improvements in the social and economic determinants of health (e.g., better housing, improved nutrition, employment) is well established, the impact of health on economic growth is less well known, but equally important. This lack of awareness contributes to suboptimal investment in activities that have significant impact on health, and hence on long-term economic development. In addition, many health systems are plagued by inefficiency and inequity as well as by poor technical quality of care.
Despite various efforts to improve their performance, the health systems in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region continue to face myriad challenges that collectively result in inadequate and inequitable health outcomes, insufficient human capital development, and therefore, in the long run, reduced economic growth. In the public sector, these problems are compounded by poor service quality, causing many, including the poor, to seek care in the private sector, which, in cases of catastrophic illness, contributes to impoverishment of all but the richest population groups. With an increasing burden of disease due to chronic illnesses, the countries in the region are poorly equipped to meet the new challenges caused by the aging of their populations and the emergence of new scourges such as HIV/AIDS.
Many factors contribute to the poor performance of the health systems in the region, but particularly significant is the lack of evidence-based policymaking, which is due in part to a dearth of systematic research and analysis of health sector challenges in the region, limited or non-existing data, and in part to an inadequate capacity to conduct applied health policy research and analysis. Even when research and analysis exist, their results are rarely used to guide the development of national health policies, nor are they shared with other countries in the region.
In order to begin to address these challenges, the recently established Middle East and North Africa (MENA) Health Policy Forum is proud to announce its first regional conference—Better Policies for Better Health—to take place in Cairo, on September 8-10, 2007. The aim of the MENA Health Forum is to contribute “to the development in the low and middle income countries of the Middle East of effective and efficient policies that improve health and that mitigate adverse consequences of illness, particularly for those who are most disadvantaged.”
Objectives of the Conference
As the first regional conference to launch the MENA Health Policy Forum, the conference seeks to achieve three goals:
To provide recent evidence regarding the importance of health for development and clarify the ways in which health contributes to human development and economic growth;
To present analytical insights into selected health and health system issues; and
To promote multi-disciplinary exchange of ideas.
The conference will also serve to identify policy and research priorities for the Forum, which will serve as input into the development of future funding proposals.
Senior policy makers, including government officials and Parliamentarians from MENA countries, including Ministries of Health, Social Affairs, Financing, Planning, and International Cooperation, as relevant;
Representatives from civil society, academia, and the media; and
Development partners active in the region.
Total number expected: 80-100 persons. The final number will depend in part on funding constraints.
Venue, Timing, and Co-Sponsors
September 8-10, 2007
UK Department of Health
Ministry of Health, Egypt
English is the working language of the conference, but simultaneous translation to/from Arabic and French will be provided.