Despite the presence of many medical schools, colleges, and universities, a unified platform was absent where a valuable knowledge base from the entire health sector is coordinated, collated, analyzed, stored, directed, and shared. The research/knowledge being produced at the national level is fragmented, piecemeal, and disjointed. The Center for Health Policy & Innovation at the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) was initiated as necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Earlier, our linkages with academic institutions and universities in the health sector were also minimal. That deprived the stakeholders of cutting-edge knowledge being produced by academia and possibility packages it for policymakers; besides also informing our advocacy program on health policy.
Additionally, there was a lack of policy research think tanks focusing on the health sector. This deficit was often echoed by the Ministry of National Health Services, Regulation and Coordination as well.
Center for Health Policy and Innovation encompasses a wide variety of national, regional, and international organizations and academic institutions. The foundation stones of the center were laid on the contextually organized and created evidence-based knowledge. The research includes, but is not limited to communicable, non-communicable, and incidental diseases. The prevention, preemption, and elimination strategies are the recipients of focal attention, and policy recommendations are fed into the concerned ministries and institutions.
More importantly, the Center for Health Policy & Innovation addresses issues arising out of the COVID-19 crisis and to respond most pressing health issues in Pakistan. Events arising from COVID-19 point towards the need for a dedicated window within SDPI that could maintain institutional memory of our work with the federal Cabinet, ministries, and provincial departments.
Disparities in health care and lack of access to care in inner cities and remote areas result in poor health outcomes. In multiple studies across Pakistan, it is unanimously pointed out that there is a lack of informed and fair policy decisions at the national level, claiming an immense need to increase the pace of research on the health sector. Health has been devolved to the provinces in the 18th Amendment, and in this regard, SDPI’s center liaises with the provincial governments and looks for opportunities to work in sub-national health policy space.
Advancement in health information technology can enable a transformation in health research that could facilitate studies that were not financially feasible in the past, and thus provide new insights regarding emerging health issues like COVID-19. Sufficient data regarding health interventions and outcomes is hardly available in the country. Structured information which may be electronically exchanged throughout the health care continuum is the need of the hour. That research may be effectively used in the health care system for individuals and populations at a mass.
Science is changing more rapidly and becoming more complex, necessitating collaboration at the individual as well as organizational levels. Thus, information sharing between institutions has become more important compared to previous eras.
Drawing from the SDPI’s core mission statement, this center works for the enhancement of health and well-being within and across generations in Pakistan, regionally, and globally. The center formulates a valuable knowledge base, where the entire health sector is engaged and knowledge is created, coordinated, collated, analyzed, stored, directed, and shared for informed policy decisions. The center acts as the generator of original research on health issues and an unprecedented information resource for concerned individuals and institutions. The center embraces two-fold functions: an advisory role fulfilled through research, policy advice, and advocacy; and an enabling role realized through providing other individuals and organizations with resource materials and training.
SDPI’s On-Going Activities in the Health Sector
Sustainable Development Policy Institute, under its health theme, is addressing one of the most pressing health issues in Pakistan – Tobacco endemic. The Rampant use of tobacco and tobacco products in Pakistan is on the increase. An estimated 24 million smokers use more than 85 billion tobacco sticks every year, not to mention the use of smokeless tobacco products. Multiple organizations are endeavoring to harness the issue and address the ever-increasing burden on health because of tobacco. Despite the existence of a Tobacco Control Cell (TCC) at the Ministry of National Health Services Regulation and Coordination (MoNHSRC), the tobacco industry continues to grow and strangulate the governmental policies curtailing tobacco use. Besides this, the efforts by Civil Society are fractured and fragmented. SDPI’s efforts for Tobacco Control would be instrumental in synergizing the efforts of all Civil Society organizations and making concrete recommendations to the Federal government addressing the issue. It is in this purview that the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) plans to establish the Center for Health Policy & Innovation.
- To internalize learning from COVID-19 – impact, response, and relief interventions.
- To crystallize the health issues confronting the general population and the policy circles.
- To act as a knowledge hub regarding innovations in health policy knowledge systems.
- To synergize the efforts of the partners and other health organizations, in understanding the health market.
- To facilitate policymakers in the formulation of policies that could effectively address the health industry and prevent the spread of emerging diseases.
- To facilitate the government in the formulation of policy for all provinces, especially when health has been relegated as a provincial issue after the 18th amendment.
- Secure sufficient funding to ensure the smooth functioning of the programs at the Center for Health Policy &Innovation.
- Call for an integrated approach for good health and well-being under Goal 3 of Sustainable Development Goals. That includes an aim to achieve universal health coverage by 2030 and a provision of access to safe and effective medicines.
SDPI has a Memorandum of Understating with more than a hundred institutes nationally and across the globe. Its vast network of partners also includes the Parliament of Pakistan and for knowledge partnerships, SDPI is engaged with the Higher Education Commission and a score of universities. The institute ushers in a new era of better research options for both health practitioners and policymakers. World Health Organization Pakistan, the Tobacco Control Cell of the Ministry of National Health Services Regulations and Coordination, The Network for Consumer Rights Protection, and Collation for Tobacco Control are currently engaged with SDPI in different health assignments.
- SDPI liaises with the Ministry of Science and Technology and would share the ongoing research, including the research done by universities/academia.
- SDPI consultations and arranged policy dialogues with the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP), Pakistan Medical and Dental Council, Pakistan Council of Science and Technology, and Ministry of Science and Technology on diseases likely to cause major epidemics.
- SDPI has engaged in Capacity Building among Parliamentarians about tobacco control and proposes sharing of knowledge tools regarding COVID-19 and post-COVID-19 activities with the upper and lower house of the parliament.
- Having a well-established Advocacy and Outreach network, SDPI gets the research published and ensures its maximum outreach.
- Training courses for health professionals are also conducted through the Center for Learning and Development at SDPI. CLD has trained professionals from different walks of life through the conduction of more than 11000 training courses.
- SDTV, the in-house web-based television setup of SDPI helps the center for the dissemination of research studies through video documentaries and Current affairs programs.
- The Economic Growth Unit of SDPI would play an important role in the comprehension of Government health policies and planning, their focus on diseases for the reason that health would improve if diseases are eliminated. EGU would play the most important role by analyzing government investments in the health sector.
Supporting the Government of Pakistan in Establishing Policy Direction aligned with MPWER on Smokeless Tobacco Control, GHW/PHW, and Next-Generation Tobacco Products (NGTPs): Facilitating implementation of TCL in Post-COVID-19 Environment.
SDPI’s Core Training Areas
- Monitoring, Evaluation, Accountability, and Learning (MEAL)
- Qualitative and Quantitative Research Methods
- Planning Appraisal and Execution
- Community Mobilization and Social Change Management
- Women Entrepreneurship and Leadership
- Digital and Financial Literacy
- Community Development for Behavioural Change Impact
- Monitoring and evaluation of development projects
- Project Planning, Monitoring, and Evaluation
- Institutional Leadership Development
- Teaching and Pedagogical Skills
- Gender and Development
- Gender and Social Protection
- Ecofeminism and Natural Resource Management (NRM)
- Human Resource Development
- Inter-personal Communications
- Supply Chain Management
- Climate Compatible Development (Infrastructure and Agriculture)
- Food Security and Water management
- Conflict Resolution and Community Resilience
- Social, Environmental, and Economic Policy Framework
- Project Management
- Writing Skills
- Organizational culture and development
- Communication and Networking
- Leadership and teambuilding
- Critical Thinking
SUMMER INTERNSHIP PROGRAM
SDPI Executive Education
Dr. Fareeha Armughan, Lead of the centre, is part of FACULTY of Evidence-Based Program Design
• CERP Executive Education by Faculty including industry leaders and experts in the field.
• Presented in collaboration with the CLEAR Initiative and Evidence for Policy Design (EPoD), at Harvard Kennedy School, the workshop provides participants with the technical tools required to apply a structured and highly practical approach to Programme design and implementation.