Written by Tara Grier

This month, ThinkWell’s Dr. Hasbullah Thabrany attended the Health 20 (H20) conference, a component of the G20 platform activities.

Dr. Hasbullah has been an integral part of global health advancement for decades now. After receiving degrees from Universitas Indonesia and the University of California, Dr. Hasbullah went on to serve as a professor, dean, then director at Universitas Indonesia. He has now worked in health system strengthening for three decades, including acting as a leading advisor to the Government of Indonesia in developing Indonesia’s national health insurance scheme, Jaminan Kesehatan Nasional (JKN). He also founded both the Association of Health Insurance Managers of Indonesia and the Indonesian Health Economic Association. Dr. Hasbullah joined ThinkWell as a senior policy advisor in 2019 on the Strategic Purchasing for Primary Health Care team and is currently the Chief of Party for the USAID Indonesia Health Financing Activity.

While attending H20 meetings in Geneva, he moderated a panel and led a discussion about creating more fiscal space for health care and treatment in low- and middle-income countries, as well as how to efficiently use existing funds. The presentation and discussion focused on the following critical elements:

  • Revenue generation
  • Re-prioritization of the government budget
  • Sector-specific domestic revenue resources
  • International finance
  • Improve health budget effectiveness and efficiency
  • Innovative financing

One panelist, Abdillah Ahsan (Demographic Institute, Universitas Indonesia), recommended optimizing the health tax use in Indonesia to increase government revenue and therefore create fiscal space to motivate sustainable health financing.

Krishna Reddy Nallamalla (ACCESS Health International, India) then mentioned that regional collaboration is vital to these strategies being discussed, saying that we should be pulling together knowledge and expertise. He went on to suggest we investigate how much we are spending on low-value care or care that isn’t needed.

Following those remarks, Dr. Yuli Farianti (Ministry of Health, Indonesia), along with several other panelists, suggested allocating funds from excise taxes into healthcare. Dr. Farianti specifically discussed using taxes from selling products like sugar and beverages, while others focused on cigarette tax. Panelist Adiatma Yudistira Manogar Siregar (Universitas Padjadjaran, Indonesia) questioned if this was a sustainable approach, as the goal would eventually be to decrease sales in tobacco. The discussion further touched on advancing primary health care and closely monitoring how health funds are being allocated, specifically looking into beneficiaries.

As the panel came to an end, the panelists acknowledged that low- and middle-income countries don’t have the luxury of taking their time to develop health systems the way high-income countries do. Following the trajectory of western countries is not realistic, so the focus should be on collaboration through strategic public-private partnerships.

Dr. Hasbullah chimed in, saying, “Our constitution said everyone has the right to healthcare. We mobilized funds through JKN, but it is still very low compared to the needs. Some of the poor people are already subsidized by the government, but it is still inadequate.”

You can watch the full video here.

Following this panel, Dr. Hasbullah also attended Think20 (T20) as the co-chair of the T20 group on global health security and COVID-19. This event took place in Indonesia on September 5 and 6, 2022. Think20 is a part of the G20 multilateral cooperation platform and works to conduct research and provide policy recommendations to G20 leaders. You can find out more about the T20 conference here.