Strategic Purchasing Africa Resource Centre (SPARC): a new initiative to strengthen strategic purchasing expertise in sub-Saharan Africa and move countries closer to universal health coverage, launched by Results for Development (R4D) in partnership with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Housed within Amref Health Africa, SPARC will match country demand with needed technical expertise by brokering tailored packages of strategic purchasing support.
The past 20 years has seen unprecedented financial commitment to health among governments of low and middle income countries (LMICs). However, mobilizing government resources is not enough to increase access to services and improve health outcomes across all population groups. These funds must be directed to priority populations, interventions, and services, as well as used efficiently to deliver high-quality care and prevention.
Strategic health purchasers use information and policy levers to decide which interventions, services, and medicines to buy, from which providers, using which contracting and payment methods to encourage efficient behaviors and decisions among both providers and service users. When implemented well, strategic purchasing can generate efficiency gains and free up resources to cover a larger share of the population with more generous service packages and greater financial protection. Therefore, improvements in strategic purchasing should both directly and indirectly strengthen primary health care and shift resources and utilization to that part of the health system.
As interest in and experience with strategic purchasing grows in LMICs, there is an opportunity for a more regionally-owned model for providing strategic purchasing support that harnesses and deploys Africa-based expertise, and brings in on-the-ground experience with the process of change, institution-building, and management of the political economy challenges inherent in strategic purchasing reforms.
Results for Development (R4D), in partnership with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, has therefore launched the Strategic Purchasing Africa Resource Center (SPARC) – a new initiative to strengthen strategic purchasing expertise in sub-Saharan Africa and move countries closer to universal health coverage. SPARC is housed within Amref Health Africa, under Amref Enterprises Limited, and will match country demand with needed technical expertise by brokering tailored packages of strategic purchasing support.
SPARC will enable interested African countries to tap into a network of African experts, trained in the technical areas of strategic purchasing, facilitation and advocacy, as an alternative to traditional international technical support. SPARC will also provide countries with home-grown options in the form of “packaged support” uniquely tailored to country demand, and relevant for the improvement of strategic health purchasing systems capable of maximizing the value and reach of health-care funding.