Meet the Speakers: Putting the “Universal” into “UHC Schemes” for Family Planning

02 June 2021

The global family planning (FP) community gathered this February under the banner “UHC: not without FP” to demonstrate why integrating FP into universal health coverage (UHC) is essential for success. As passionate believers in the power of FP, we couldn’t agree more – but there is a trap here. Progress towards UHC is often wrapped up in rhetoric about “UHC schemes.” And many countries are choosing to rely on national health insurance (NHI) to deliver a defined package of benefits to contributors and pay providers based on outputs. Are NHI approaches best suited to reaching those most in need with quality FP services? Our webinar seeks to explore this important question.

We invite you to join our webinar on the latest research and best practices from a range of low- and middle-income countries actively undertaking purchasing reforms. This is the first webinar in the Counterpoint series, hosted by ThinkWell.


Joe Kutzin, Coordinator for Health Financing, World Health Organization

Joe Kutzin leads the WHO’s health financing team in Geneva. In that capacity, he works closely with WHO’s six Regional Offices, addressing a diverse set of critical topics including fiscal sustainability, public financial management, strategic purchasing, financing of public goods, expenditure tracking, assessing progress on health financing reforms, and, most recently, the health financing dimensions of the COVID-19 response.

He is a health economist with 35 years’ experience, working in Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, Europe, and the United States. Since joining WHO in 1994, he has served as WHO policy advisor to the Ministry of Health of Kyrgyzstan, and also as the European Region’s Lead Advisor on Health Financing. Prior to that he worked at the World Bank and a private health foundation in the United States. He was a contributor to the World Health Report 2010 on financing for universal coverage and has published numerous conceptual and empirical articles on health systems, health financing and Universal Health Coverage.

Jacob Kazungu, Research Officer, KEMRI Wellcome Trust

A health economist with a keen research interest in health financing, choice modelling, economic evaluation of interventions, analytical modelling for decision making, economics of sex work, equity and inequalities in health and health systems strengthening. Jacob is also a NEMA licensed Lead Expert for Environmental Impact Assessment and Environmental Audits (NEMA Reg No: 8431).


Prastuti Soewondo, Special Advisor to the Minister of Health, Ministry of Health Indonesia

Prastuti Soewondo currently serves as Special Advisor to the Minister of Health at the Ministry of Health in Indonesia. Prior to that, Prastuti joined ThinkWell. Dr Soewondo was also an academic at the School of Public Health Administration and Health Policy, University of Indonesia.


Sophie Witter, Professor of International Health Financing and Health Systems, Queen Margaret University of Edinburgh

Professor Sophie Witter (BA, MA, PhD) is a Professor of International Health Financing and Health Systems in the Institute for Global Health and Development. She is also a member of the Institute for Global Health and Development Research Centre. She is a health economist specializing in health financing policy and health systems research in low and middle income countries. She has 30 years experience in these areas, working first in development agencies and then in the universities of York, Aberdeen and QMU Edinburgh.


Brendan Hayes, Senior Health Specialist, Global Financing Facility, World Bank

Brendan Hayes is a sexual and reproductive health expert currently working as a Health Specialist with the World Bank and the Global Financing Facility secretariat. He has 10 years experience in Southern and East Africa working on health and development programs including 4 years in Malawi working on HIV prevention and family planning service delivery in the private sector.

Prior to joining the World Bank, he was a Channel Development Director working for Marie Stopes International with responsibility to design and implementation of private-sector RH service delivery through in-country support in Philippines, Pakistan, Vietnam, Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia, Ghana, Senegal, Mali, Madagascar, Swaziland, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

Originally from upstate-NY, Brendan has a BA from St. Lawrence University and a MSc from University College Dublin.

Elisha Dunn-Georgiou, Vice President of Policy and Advocacy, PAI

Elisha oversees the programmatic work of PAI, ensuring that the organization’s research and advocacy agendas are in alignment with PAI’s mission and strategic plan. Elisha has more than 15 years of experience in the fields of sexual and reproductive health and international development.

She holds a master’s degree in epidemiology and a JD from the State University of New York at Buffalo. Elisha is also a returned Peace Corps volunteer, having served in Morocco.

Nomi Fuchs-Montgomery, Deputy Director for Driving Impact at Scale, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

Nomi Rachel Fuchs-Montgomery, is a Deputy Director for Driving Impact at Scale, for the Family Planning strategy team at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. In this capacity, she is responsible for leading the downstream initiatives of the family planning strategy, collaborating with country and regional offices, and fostering partnerships with a wide range of actors across the family planning and reproductive health ecosystem.

Nomi joined the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in January 2015, initially serving as the Deputy Director leading the Contraceptive Technology and Evidence and Innovation Initiatives, as well as providing oversight for the family planning team’s approach to adolescents and gender equitable programming. Prior to joining the Foundation, Nomi was the Director of Global Partnerships & US Country Director for Marie Stopes International-US (MSI-US), where she was responsible for the launch and development of MSI’s US office and growing global partnerships.  Nomi has over 24 years of professional experience in the field of reproductive health, family planning and HIV/AIDS. She has extensive experience collaborating with international bilateral donors, private foundations, UN agencies, leading NGOs, feminist and youth lead organizations, the World Bank and other finance partners.  Her first professional assignment was as a Peace Corps volunteer in south east Nigeria, where she worked on guinea worm eradication and developed a passion for public health.


Matt Boxshall, Program Director, ThinkWell

Matt Boxshall joined ThinkWell to drive forward work on strategic purchasing for primary health care. Building from frontline service delivery experience in Africa and Asia, Matt has become increasingly involved in policy and health financing, and is passionate about unlocking the potential of systems to deliver quality care to those most in need.  Matt is a director on the Strategic Purchasing for Family Planning project for ThinkWell.

Nirmala Ravishankar, Program Director, ThinkWell

Nirmala Ravishankar is a health systems specialist with over 15 years of experience in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. She has worked on a range of health financing and health systems strengthening projects, including leading a research initiative to measure development assistance for health at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation; managing a technical assistance program at Abt Associates to assist country governments measure and analyze health spending; and coordinating a multi-partner initiative to link the delivery of primary care services through franchised private providers with government health insurance in Kenya.

Nirmala joined ThinkWell in 2018 to lead a project to improve financing for primary healthcare services.  She has a PhD in political science from Harvard University, but picked a career in global health over psephology.

Closing Remarks

Caitlin Mazzilli, Senior Program Officer, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Caitlin Mazzilli is a senior program officer at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in the Health Systems team, managing a portfolio of grants to advance strategic purchasing of health services and service delivery innovation. She works closely with the Maternal Newborn Child Health and Family Planning teams to support integration within primary health care delivery.