The Open Phences Hub has received grant funding from the UK Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) through the RISA (Research and Innovation Systems for Africa) programme.
Open Phences is a ‘think and do’ tank created to democratize public-private engagement, collaborations, and partnerships in healthcare across Sub-Saharan Africa. Presently housed at Strathmore University Business School (SBS), the Hub brings together a diverse pool of health systems champions with a common vision – unified health systems that harness individual strengths of ecosystem actors and channel them towards the public good.
The Open Phences RISA award will support Kenyan counties to first establish engagement mechanisms that result in a common understanding of priority maternal and child health challenges and possible solutions, and secondly, support counties to implement co-creation workshops to develop fit-for-purpose investment cases that are grounded on local ecosystem capabilities and acceptance.
Kenyans dealt fairly well with the Covid-19 pandemic, thanks to its ability to mobilize non-state actors for support. However, the mobilization was mostly ad hoc, exposing the absence of structured engagement and collaboration mechanisms between the public and private sectors.
Starting January 2022, the Hub will work with national and county governments to promote open, transparent and mutually beneficial engagement. Four counties of Homa Bay, Kiambu, Kisumu and Trans Nzoia will benefit from the first phase.
Dr Francis Wafula, the Director of Open Phences and a Senior Lecturer at the SBS Institute of Healthcare Management, expressed gratitude for the funding, emphasizing the team’s intention of supporting counties to establish joint learning and co-creation mechanisms that deliver investment cases that are more focused on improving lives and less on who owns the health system inputs.
“Public-private partnerships remain contentious and contested in healthcare for two reasons. First, we have rarely involved the entire ecosystem – including community members – in the design and execution, and second, we haven’t put enough emphasis on understanding weaknesses in models and building on the lessons, including being frank enough about what doesn’t work well,” Dr. Wafula observes.
“Fair and transparent collaborations can help Africa leapfrog development. The Open Phences Hub is fully committed to contributing to that vision – unified ecosystems systems that are solely focused on meeting the social and health needs of the community,” he added.
The RISA (Research and Innovation Systems for Africa) programme aims to strengthen research and innovation ecosystems in Africa, with funding from two separate FCDO programmes – SRIA for research ecosystems and ATIP for innovation ecosystems. The awarded RISA funding is managed by Chemonics Kenya and will be implemented until 31 March 2024.
About the SBS Institute of Healthcare Management
The Institute of Healthcare Management (IHM) continues to play a leading role in research and research capacity strengthening within the Business School. It is also involved in the design and execution of world class Academic and Executive training Programmes. IHM is involved in securing scholarships, PhD training slots, various ongoing and inception-stage research projects and publications. It secures its mandate through close collaboration with several universities, donors and research institutes both locally and abroad. Learn more about the SBS Institute of Healthcare Management here
By Brenda Bunyasi
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