HTA capacity development across Asia

HITAP’s activities during the Prince Mahidol Award Conference (PMAC) 2015 focused on an overarching theme – priority-setting for universal health coverage (UHC), which is also the theme for next year’s PMAC. As a new member of the HITAP team, I was involved in different activities during the Conference, particularly helping out at the PMAC 2016 booth and two side meetings. The first meeting was on the World Health Organisation Asia Pacific Observatory (APO) policy brief.

The APO, with support from HITAP and NICE international, brought together HTA practitioners from China, Korea, Malaysia, Taiwan, and Thailand to develop a policy brief on Conducive Factors to HTA Development in Asia. In addition to the country working paper authors, Mr Manoj Jhalani (Joint Secretary – Policy, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare) gave the keynote on India’s progress in UHC through the National Health Mission, and its need for HTA as a “system of knowledge to address what needs to be prioritised”. Researchers from respective institutes in Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam and India also shared their countries’ experiences on the recent efforts for HTA introduction in these settings.

There was a fantastic turnout, and attendees came from different backgrounds, ranging academic institutions, civil society, donor agencies, HTA agencies, health and finance ministries, industry, and other public and private sector agents. The objectives of the meeting were to get feedback from this broad audience on the draft APO brief, to raise awareness of HTA establishment and its use in policymaking, and to share learning to other countries committed to UHC. As part of the team that collated and edited the draft report, the discussions were particularly relevant for me.

Topics for the presentations included:

  • whether UHC itself is a conducive factor or challenge to HTA development
  • the development of individual stakeholders, institutional capacity, and networking capacity, and their linkages to policy,
  • the key enabling factors for the integration of HTA into health systems.

Some of the issues and challenges highlighted during the discussions were:

  • the need for priority setting in all kinds of contexts (especially resource-limited countries)
  • opportunities and difficulties in the political process and possible distortionary effects of technologies
  • demand generation vs. answering current demand for HTA in countries
  • the need for and challenge of good quality data from LMICs, and
  • generalisability of research in one setting to another.

The findings from these discussions will be used to produce a practical guide (chapter on recommendations) for the policy brief.