Pivoting to the Pandemic

As the Covid-19 pandemic rapidly spread around the world, the SP4PHC project pivoted to incorporate activities to respond to the crisis even as it continued to work towards its original mission. In all five project countries, ThinkWell staff responded to government requests for support. Broadly, our work related to the Covid-19 response can be grouped into five categories:

Analytics: Collect data and conduct analyses to inform the response

Policy Support: Support government institutions to develop plans and policies to guide the response

  Operations Support: Assist national and subnational institutions to coordinate and implement response activities

  Communications: Help countries develop and deliver key messages around Covid-19 to both providers and the public

Learning: Document learnings from the pandemic response as it unfolds to help countries build resilience

The activities our teams undertook differ based on the needs in our project countries. On this page, you can find presentations that share what each of our five countries has done in response to the pandemic, as well as published blogs that dive into more detail about key issues. Through the continued support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the SP4PHC project helped countries shore up their health systems to respond to this unprecedented crisis.

Covid-19 Response Activities by SP4PHC Countries

Burkina Faso

We are supporting the Ministry of Health to rapidly channel operational funds to facilities on the frontline of the Covid-19 response. We are also documenting how the Covid-19 response impacts health financing arrangements at the national and subnational levels to inform post-Covid-19 planning for epidemics and health system resiliency. Our Burkina Faso presentation (updated December 2020) contains more information on our Covid-19 response strategies.


We are reviewing what are the roles and responsibilities of Jaminan Kesehatan Nasional (JKN) and the Ministry of Health in purchasing services related to Covid-19, as well as how subnational health authorities are responding to national mandates around the pandemic response and the host of public financial management challenges this has presented.  We are also conducting analyses to understand the impact of Covid-19 on access to and budgets for routine essential services like contraceptive methods and maternal deliveries. Our Indonesia presentation (updated December 2020) contains more information on our Covid-19 response strategies.


We are providing technical support to the Covid-19 Secretariat at the Council of Governors and assisting the County Governments of Isiolo, Kilifi, and Makueni to prepare for and respond to Covid-19. We are also working with KEMRI Wellcome Trust to document learnings emerging from the Covid-19 response. Our Kenya presentation (updated December 2020) contains more information on our Covid-19 response strategies.


We are supporting the Philippines government to increase testing capacity, to expand PhilHealth benefits to cover Covid-19 care and support, to plan and monitor personal protective equipment distribution, and to develop policy that will facilitate telemedicine expansion. We are capturing learning as the roles and responsibilities of PhilHealth and the Department of Health rapidly evolve in response to Covid-19.  This learning will help to shape the implementation of the UHC Law. We are also supporting subnational health authorities to respond to Covid-19. Our Philippines presentation (updated December 2020) contains more information on our Covid-19 response strategies.


We are reviewing how the Ugandan government is purchasing services related to Covid-19 and rapidly allocating funds to frontline providers, including those in the private sector.  We are also supporting the Kampala Capital City Authority to expand access for priority primary health care services and coordinate national-level referrals.  In addition, we are facilitating the direct training of 300+ private providers in Covid-19 case identification and management with our partner Uganda Healthcare Federation and the production of a video for private drug shops, pharmacies, and clinics on Covid-19 identification, isolation, and referral. Our Uganda presentation (updated December 2020) contains more information on our Covid-19 response strategies.

Featured Learning Products

Strengthening Public Financial Management Systems and Health Practices in Response to COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic in the Philippines demanded swift adjustments in health financing arrangements, many of which were linked to the country’s system for public financial management (PFM). This report describes the PFM adjustments made by the country to finance its COVID-19 response. This analysis also explores lessons for PFM improvements that can lead to better financing of health services in the Philippines and how these lessons can be applied globally.

Maintaining Essential Services During the Covid-19 Pandemic in Indonesia

How did the Government of Indonesia try to maintain essential health services (EHS) in the midst of a pandemic? This policy brief focuses on how upstream financing challenges at the national and district levels affected frontline providers to effectively respond to Covid-19 and maintain routine EHS for Indonesians. The brief also offers policy recommendations on improving these processes for inevitable future crises.

Uganda’s Emergency Response to the Covid-19 Pandemic: A Case Study

A review of Uganda’s initial institutional, financial, and operational responses to the Covid-19 pandemic. The case study, published in September 2020, provides insights to the priorities and investments made early in the outbreak that inform the current response and potential long-term reforms that can improve the health system.

removing financial barriers to health services

ThinkWell’s Short-Term Technical Assistance to the Council of Governors’ Covid-19 Secretariat in Kenya

This report summarizes ThinkWell’s short-term technical assistance to Kenya’s Covid-19 Secretariat and makes recommendations for the country’s ongoing Covid-19 response.

Stories from the Ground

Our teams work closely with local governments, which gives SP4PHC an unique opportunity to share perspectives on how Covid-19 is impacting countries and their health financing systems on the ground. We will be documenting these experiences and lessons learned through blogs, which can be accessed by clicking on the following titles. This page is continuously updated, so we encourage you to check our website frequently.

May 2020

June 2020

July 2020

September 2020

October 2020

December 2020

January 2021

February 2021

September 2021

November 2021

SP4PHC aims to improve how governments purchase primary health care services, with a focus on family planning and maternal, newborn, and child health. SP4PHC is supported by a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.