A Panel of Leading Women Experts Reflect at the Launch of HTA Roadmap
Even though there’s consensus and a resolution approved by the World Health Organization member states (passed during the 67th World Health Assembly) on nationally establishing and strengthening health technology assessment (HTA) capacities as a key enabler for achieving universal health coverage (UHC), many low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) are lagging behind. Health systems in LMICs continue to struggle with managing and allocating limited resources for health, hindering progress toward UHC. To address this gap, the USAID Medicines, Technologies, and Pharmaceutical Services (MTaPS) Program, in partnership with Management Sciences for Health (MSH), released “A Roadmap for Systematic Priority Setting and Health Technology Assessment (HTA).”
The HTA roadmap, which serves as a practical guide for policy action in LMICs to successfully implement HTA for setting priorities, was launched virtually on October 8, 2020, featuring an all-female panel of international HTA experts.
The HTA roadmap was written in consultation with many global experts and informed by over 18,000 sources. Keeping practicality at the core of its premise, the roadmap enables countries to start small and leverage existing capacities, a stepwise approach that will help them move fast on their journey toward UHC and self-reliance.
“Which medicines, diagnostics, and procedures should be financed to achieve the best health outcomes for the constituents? What is the best way to do that equitably and transparently?” are some critical questions that the HTA process can help countries answer according to Lisa Ludeman, Senior Pharmaceutical Management Advisor at USAID.
Ludeman, along with Daniel Kress, Vice President for Global Health Systems Innovation at MSH, gave opening remarks at the launch event. Hector Castro, Health Financing, Technologies, Data, & Impact Lead for MTaPS, and Christian Suharlim, Senior Technical Advisor in Pharmaceutical Economics and HTA for MSH, introduced the HTA roadmap, setting the stage for the panel discussion (read their blog introducing the HTA Roadmap).
The panel of women experts and leaders from HTA organizations in Colombia, Kenya, Taiwan, and Ukraine shared key insights from their countries’ experiences, challenges, and successes in implementing HTA strategies.
Oresta Piniazhko, Director, HTA Department, Ukraine’s State Expert Center, shared the experience of institutionalizing HTA in Ukraine and the strides the country has taken in a short period. The Ukrainian Ministry of Health started introducing HTA in the country with technical support from the USAID-funded SAFEMed Project in 2019.
“Success factors of HTA institutionalization and implementation include taking into account the health system context, political support, local capacity, and demand for quality health care, and keeping the international agreements in mind,” said Piniazhko.
In Colombia, the government is working to increase benefits across the entire population, including rural areas. Adriana Robayo Garcia, Executive Director, Institute of Health Technology Assessment, Colombia, emphasized the importance of factoring in the country’s context for HTA implementation.
“It is key to keep in mind the national problems, politics, processes, and practices in developing the country’s HTA policy,” according to Garcia.
Colombia is leveraging regional collaboration with neighboring countries, such as Chile, Costa Rica, and Peru, to learn and advance its HTA agenda.
Ndinda Kusu, MTaPS Kenya Country Project Director, noted the Kenyan president’s ongoing commitment to UHC, and that, as part of the strategy, a panel was established to design a UHC benefits package which takes HTA principles into consideration to systematically include products in the essential package of services.
“The HTA roadmap is timely and will help with operationalizing strategies and integrating health technology assessment into priority-setting and for harmonization,” said Kusu.
According to Li Ying (Grace) Huang, Director, HTA Division, Taiwan’s Center for Drug Evaluation, and International Network of Agencies for Health Technology Assessment (INAHTA) Board Director, Taiwan’s national health insurance program that provides UHC to all citizens started using HTA to support the national insurance scheme in providing reimbursement for new medicines, including breakthrough drugs and medical devices.
“The 12-year implementation of HTA has not only supported government decision making but supported patient care. Using patient evidence and feedback, patient care pathways have been transformed through involvement in HTA,” reflected Huang.
The Q&A session identified the following strategies for tackling challenges, particularly to build political will in countries to support HTA implementation:
- Effective communications and educational programs for stakeholders
- Support from experts to educate politicians
- Advocacy from the patient level and their involvement in decision making