African finance ministers convene at Harvard to discuss health financing

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The influence of a minister of finance in shaping broad public policy, building sustainable health financing, and increasing efficiency in implementation and delivery of health and social services while securing fiscal and economic stability and growth were the key topics of the recently convened inaugural Ministerial Forum for Ministers of Finance, held at Harvard on April 21-25, 2013. A joint program of the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) and the African Development Bank (AfDB), the forum was launched to bring together distinguished current and former ministers from around the world to Harvard; it will become an annual event. Twenty-one serving and former ministers from 18 countries, mostly in Africa, participated in the intensive four-day program led by senior faculty from HSPH and Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) as well as AfDB technical experts.

Opening the forum, HSPH Dean Julio Frenk said, “The forum provides ministers a unique opportunity for shared experiential learning in a non-political, unofficial environment.” The overall goal of the forum is to discuss fresh perspectives on the role of ministers of finance, new ideas about health financing and increasing efficiencies in the use of public funds, and the relation between investments in health and social programs and sustainable economic development.