COVID-19 as an Opportunity for PFM Transformation in Health


Feb 14 WHO_Banner_A05

Posted by Hélène Barroy and Joseph Kutzin[1]


COVID-19 has been a stress test for all Public Financing Management (PFM) systems. Most countries have temporarily relaxed PFM rules to provide greater financial flexibility while tailoring accountability mechanisms. Since the inception of the crisis, the World Health Organization (WHO) has been monitoring country PFM modalities to formulate, execute and account for COVID-19 health spending, including vaccine roll-out, in national budgets.

To enhance cross-country dialog and the learning of lessons for health spending in the context of COVID-19, WHO convened virtually its 5th Conference on Fiscal Space, PFM and Health Financing between 15-19 November 2021.

The week-long event gathered more than 900 participants from ministries of health and finance, health insurance funds, and related entities from 55 countries. It featured 50 senior experts from various organizations, including the World Bank, the IMF, OECD, UNICEF, the Global Fund, and GAVI.

The event marked a milestone in the implementation of the WHO Collaborative Agenda on fiscal space, public financial management, and health financing. It brought together health and finance perspectives aligned on the need to use COVID-19 as an opportunity for a longer-term transformation of PFM. The joint vision recommends PFM rules and policies to better meet health sector requirements in terms of flexible and accountable spending modalities up to the frontline service providers, while enhancing the overall financial management capacities and processes across the health sector.

The Conference offered a dynamic platform for cross-country learning on a range of PFM topics and paved the way for integrating some good practices that emerged during the COVID-19 crisis into regular budget processes.

Meeting materials, including the agenda, presentations, session recordings, and the meeting report are available on the WHO event page.


[1] World Health Organization, Health Systems Governance and Financing.


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