Presentation to Asia Health Policy Program
Palo Alto, CA
20 October 2011
Long history of trying to create an Asia
Recent concerted effort by WHO, World Bank
and ADB to advance the process
Key Characteristics of the APO
1. Builds upon the 13-year highly successful
experience of the European Observatory (EO)*
Key Characteristics of the APO
Shared responsibility and ownership
All partners share ownership of the APO, its
identity and products
Thus, no entity or group of entities
“owns” the Observatory
Key Characteristics of the APO—
What it will not do
3. Will not substitute for routine activities of the
individual partners
Not a general purpose research organization
investigating any and all health topics of interest
Key Characteristics of the APO—
What it will do
4. Be a bridge between researchers and decision-makers to serve
the policy needs of countries. Undertake comparative research on
country health systems. Three main activities:
HiTs ( in-depth profiles of health systems and policies, using a
standardized template, adapted to the region)
Thematic studies emerging out of comparative analyses
Dissemination of the above
Health Systems in Transition
HiTs are the “bread and butter” observatory work.
They can be used to:
Examine different approaches to the organization,
financing and delivery of health services and the role
of key health system actors;
Describe the institutional framework for and
process, content and implementation of policy;
Highlight challenges and areas requiring more
detailed analysis;
HiTs continued
Provide a tool for disseminating information on
health systems;
Facilitate the exchange of reform experiences
across countries
Establish a baseline for assessing the impact of
reforms; and
Inform comparative analysis.
Underlying Principles
 Consensus that APO can only succeed if there is:
An independent, non-politicized research process
underpinned by strong quality assurance
Financial sustainability (must cover the costs of
doing business)
APO Governance
Tripartite structure comprising a:
Steering Committee
Research Hubs and a Research Advisory Group
Steering Committee
Guides the strategic direction of the Observatory,
monitoring the implementation of its work plan and
the quality of its products. Operates on the basis of
Annual membership fee of US$100,000
Research Hubs
Provide technical support and leadership and help to
build capacity in country-based research teams, carry
out studies directly, and engage with existing networks
active in health systems research
Three Research Hubs currently being considered
Research Advisory Group
A core team of 4-5 researchers, working in
their personal capacity, who have the dual
function of:
(a) advising on the process of quality control for
Observatory research products, and
(b) providing input on the strategic direction of the
Observatory’s research agenda.
Responsible for the day-to-day management of the
Observatory and its program of research. Run in a
spirit of co-operation and partnership, with the Steering
Committee guiding its work.
Initially located in WPRO Office in Manila
Current Steering Committee Membership
Countries: Hong Kong SAR, the Philippines,
Singapore, Thailand
Organizations: Asian Development Bank, AusAid, The
World Bank, WHO South-East Asia and Western Pacific
Regional Offices
Current Status
APO formally established in Hong Kong in June 2011
Covers most Asia Pacific countries
Research Hubs and RAG composition being decided
Director position recently advertised
Future Challenges
Politics, politics, and politics
Quality assurance
Comparable data
Future Challenges continued
Bridging the gap between evidence and
“policy dialogue”
How to populate the space between evidence and
Future Challenges continued
Bridging the gap continued-Evidence side often does not have the entry point
(or skills) to introduce evidence into policy making
Key variables:
Evidence quality and accessibility/interpretability
Concluding Remarks—Key Themes
Comparative, transparent and peer reviewed
Observatory style of working--researchers
focused on policy relevance and involved in
dissemination and policy engagement