Thinkwell HSR2020

Adjusting health purchasing arrangements to support the COVID response: a global overview and country lessons

15 April 2021

On March 10, 2021, staff from ThinkWell’s Strategic Purchasing for Primary Health Care (SP4PHC) project participated in HSR2020 session, “Adjusting health purchasing arrangements to support the COVID response: a global overview and country lessons.” The COVID-19 global pandemic compelled governments to rapidly examine and modify purchasing arrangements for channeling resources to health providers to increase coronavirus testing and treatment. To achieve this, many have first taken stock of available capacity in the public and private sectors. Next, they have modified existing purchasing arrangements to leverage the comparative advantage of different purchasers like ministries of health and health insurance to pay providers. Countries have expanded or clarified the benefit package and adjusted payment methods, rates, and contracting procedures. They also changed governance arrangements and information management systems.

The HSR2020 session, “Adjusting health purchasing arrangements to support the COVID-19 response: a global overview and country lessons,” explored the different ways that governments adjusted their purchasing arrangements for COVID-19 services to capture learnings that can assist countries to “build back better.” The session featured results from a multi-country survey conducted by the World Health Organization on purchasing arrangements for COVID-19 related services. It also featured a country panel with detailed country insights from the Philippines, Argentina, and the WHO European Region.

The session’s objectives were to:

  • Share information about the purchasing policies and practices governments have applied to support the COVID-19 response
  • Explore how countries have adjusted their purchasing arrangements to purchase health services during the pandemic and discuss implementation drivers as well as challenges
  • Reflect on the medium- to long-term implications of COVID-19 on strategic purchasing reforms that middle-income countries are undertaking


  • Session chair and moderator: Nirmala Ravishankar, ThinkWell, USA
  • Presenter: Inke Mathauer, WHO, Switzerland
  • Country panelist: Melanie C. Santillan, PhilHealth, Philippines
  • Country panelist: Martin Sabignoso, Senior Health Financing Expert, Argentina
  • Country panelist: Salomão Lourenço, ThinkWell, Mozambique
  • Discussant: Triin Habicht, WHO EURO