We hope that 2012 closed on a high note, and that you enjoyed time with friends and family.
2012 was another busy year for your financing communities of practice (CoPs): two regional workshops, plenty of debates on our online discussion groups, the launch of our Facebook page… At the end of 2011 as you may recall we began this new project, the “Financing Health in Africa” blog – with several objectives in mind: to create linkages among CoPs, to give broader visibility to the knowledge exchange happening in them, to provide a platform for CoP members, all in order to create synergies and deepen knowledge around health financing.
We sincerely hope that our blog is adding value to debates on health financing in Africa.
Over the past 12 months, we have published 26 original blogs (plus another 12 translations). Our readership is broad, international, and reactive. More than 40% of hits come from Africa, with participation from almost all countries across the continent, albeit some much more often than others, which is explained in part by the subjects covered (figure 1).
The blog is also followed closely by readers in Western Europe and North America. When we took a closer look into our statistics, we were pleasantly surprised to find out that we also had regular readers in South Asia – a region whose poorest areas share some common challenges with Africa. We are heartened by the lively exchanges that some of the blogs have generated and their increasing visibility on Facebook and Twitter.
Looking back at the 2012 archives, you will notice that CoP experts have written most prolifically on access to health care, universal health coverage, experiences with fee exemptions, performance-based financing, and community participation. We have also covered national and regional political developments, notably in Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Kenya, Niger, and Senegal. Our blog gives a special focus to implementation issues.
As we begin 2013, we wish good health to all of our readers and those they hold dear: it goes without saying that access to quality health services for all is a priority in Africa, but also elsewhere in the world. It seems that economic growth on the continent will remain strong this year. Africa seems to be making its place in the world, but even if a strong middle class is in the process of emerging, challenges remain daunting for the poorest. We must hope that the gains growth yields are put to use to improve access to health for all.
We are convinced that knowledge sharing is one of the key underlying forces in this dynamic context. We also recognize that in this rapidly changing world, it is becoming difficult to read – much less process – all of the information being shared and exchanged. Despite the sometimes “information overload”, we trust that you will continue to find value in this blog and that you will help to disseminate its content even further.
This forum comes to life through the blogs you propose. Our wish for 2013 is that our pool of blog contributors grows much larger. We hope that many of you will be inspired by the debate on “post MDGs”, or by the trend toward universal health coverage and the innovative financing mechanisms being proposed to attain UHC, by the role of the private health sector, or by lessons from pilots of performance-based financing. Use this blog as a place to explore ideas or reforms in which you believe. It is ever important that the voice of African experts be heard, and that innovative experiences be shared across the continent!
In 2013 we will continue to serve as a forum for researchers to share their work. We are encouraged to do so by the excellent response to our coverage of the legacy of the Bamako Initiative (see the interviews with Lucy Gilson, Susan Rifkin and Valéry Ridde), and especially by the series produced by Jean-Benoît Falisse on community participation. Jean-Benoît is prolific! His series will continue in the months to come. We also plan to test out this year the formula of a CoP member interviewing a researcher from within the CoP to disseminate ongoing research and hopefully make it accessible to those of you who may not have the time to read scientific journal articles. If you are interested in seeing some of your research covered here – or if you would like to interview a researcher within the CoP, we encourage you to make contact with us.
The life of our CoPs is lived forward: we feel sure that the year ahead holds more than a few surprises for us. Please don’t hesitate to write us with suggestions on thematic areas, subjects, or people to interview. This is your platform!
We take this opportunity to remind those readers who are not yet CoP members that they are always welcome to join: all that is required is to sign up through our on-line discussion groups to participate in ongoing exchanges and to stay informed about our various ongoing activities.
Our very best to you,
Bruno & Allison