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Reproductive Health: From Advocacy to Action
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Course Theme:Health Systems
Sub-Theme:Health Systems Policy Reform
Course Format:Facilitated
Amount:US $ 0 (Course is free of charge)
Contact Name:World Bank Health Learning
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April 06, 2016 - May 11, 2016
Application Ends On : March 23, 2016
Over the last two decades, important changes have occurred in the policy and program environment for work on population and reproductive health. These changes embody renewed international commitments to human rights and gender equity as well as recognition of changing economic, demographic and epidemiological conditions in countries. The commitments were agreed during the series of international conferences and summits that took place during the 1990s, including the International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo (ICPD), the Fourth World Conference on Women (FWCW) and the Social Summit.

A key accomplishment of these conferences was to establish measurable goals towards which governments and development agencies could focus their efforts to improve the health and welfare of poor people around the world. Follow-ups to these conferences further sharpened global attention on outcomes expressed as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Later discussions identified key challenges that governments and agencies face in their efforts to implement commitments made at the conferences. Chief among these challenges are shortfalls in financial support for needed actions, lack of implementation capacity in countries, and the rapidly changing policy and program environments in which the work must be done.

Increased needs and demands for services are the result of both demographic changes and of the broader agendas agreed at the conferences. They have forced all players to be more selective in what they support and to set priorities based on the needs of the community as well as institutional and economic realities. There is also increased competition for resources to meet challenges such as HIV/AIDS and other communicable diseases. Ineffective use of available resources and poor performance of health systems have further motivated governments and development agencies to try new approaches, including broad budget-level support rather than project-based funding by donor agencies, and performance-based funding to focus attention and motivation on desired results.

An assessment of the World Bank’s own work on health reported that funding for family planning and reproductive health other than HIV/AIDS fell off substantially between 2000 and 2010. The World Bank’s Board of Directors was so concerned about this that they asked the Bank’s management to prepare an action plan to reinvigorate Bank support for family planning and reproductive health. The Reproductive Health Action Plan (RHAP) was approved by the Board in May, 2010. Course modules address selected elements of the RHAP, in particular the challenge of implementing reproductive health and family planning within the context of health system strengthening.

The changes described above represent both opportunities and challenges for professionals working on reproductive health. Practitioners need to understand how their work fits into the broader policy and program environments for health system strengthening and other initiatives, including debt relief and poverty reduction strategies. To be effective champions of reproductive health and family planning, they need to understand how these developments affect and are affected by population and reproductive health and to acquire the skills to deal effectively with them in their policy and program work.

Specific topics in this course include:
  • The changing policy and program environment, including resource and capacity issues in implementing the program of action agreed at the International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo (ICPD) and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the changing demographic, epidemiological and economic conditions in countries, and new approaches to donor support (including budget support);
  • The economic and health rationales for achieving better reproductive health outcomes, and the links between these outcomes and poverty reduction at the household and community levels;
  • The boundaries of reproductive health, and the priority that should be given to reproductive health in selecting interventions that need to be included in the services and information “packages” typically supported by the Health system strengthening (HSS) process;
  • The principal HSS measures (new organizational approaches, including purchasing from private providers, new financing and provider-payment mechanisms), how they are expected to improve health systems, the benefits and risks they carry for reproductive health outcomes and what can be done to mitigate such risks; and
  • Action plans in the form of a scorecard to apply the tools and lessons learned during the course to participants’ specific work challenges.
The content is divided into 5 modules. The first module deals with how thinking about reproductive health programs has changed over the span of the last two decades and what the implications of those changes are for situating reproductive health programs in the context of health system strengthening; the second module explains economic concepts that are needed to make the case in economic terms for preserving and strengthening reproductive health programs; the third module covers health system strengthening reforms and the challenges and opportunities they provide for reproductive health programs; the fourth module builds on the third, offering concrete hands-on tools for health system strengthening and finally, the fifth module brings in the bigger picture of cross cutting issues and how they should be incorporated into reproductive health programs for a bigger impact.

The course is organized so that a topic’s background, theory, analytical framework, and policy relevance are introduced, discussed, and reiterated throughout the five modules the course. Country case examples are used to illustrate how different issues play out in different contexts. Participatory learning exercises are an important part of the course and aim to facilitate participants’ understanding of issues and ability to develop ways of addressing them.

Fourth tab Course objectives
The goal of the course is to equip participants with the specific knowledge and tools needed in their work on reproductive health in countries where health system strengthening (HSS), budget support for health programs and poverty-reduction strategies are being implemented. By the end of the course, participants will be better able to:
  • Recognize the link between reproductive health, gender, and poverty and the influences these have on each other;
  • Identify technical, economic and political issues that countries face in achieving MDGs related to reproductive health;
  • Recognize the influence of health system strengthening efforts on reproductive health services and program design and delivery;
  • Identify and prioritize reproductive health needs within their own country or client country in the context of health system strengthening (HSS);
  • Apply tools for planning, costing, financing, and efficiently mobilizing public and private resources for reproductive health in their own country or client country; and
  • Design a simple scorecard to track efforts to improve reproductive health outcomes as envisaged in the World Bank Reproductive Health Action Plan in their own country or client country

Target Audience: