On November 4, 2021, Eritrea’s Ministry of Health hosted a consensus building workshop for the national health research agenda document that the country has developed. The objective of the Priority Health Agenda consensus workshop was to give all technical expertise the opportunity to review and further enrich the document before final printing and dissemination. The priority health research agenda is one of the key tools that can help the health sector to identify and implement research according to the needs of the country. Eritrea, as part of its commitment to the efforts and achievements of the SDGs and UHC goals, has adopted different approaches and initiatives to accelerate evidence-based policy guidance. The country has developed a national health research program 2022-2026 whose objective is to provide guidance to policy makers, researchers, funding agencies and other parties concerned on the main priority research areas for health. The national health research agenda was developed in collaboration with WHO and other stakeholders, including health training institutions. In this way, resources can be distributed equitably, and knowledge and evidence can be produced for use by planners, decision-makers and decision-makers. The last priority health program for Eritrea covered the year 2013 to 2017.
The MOH initially established an advisory committee and a core team to undertake planning, situation analysis, information gathering and synthesis, and stakeholder consultations. The consultative process was carried out with different stakeholders such as the Ministry of Health at headquarters as well as at Zoba (zonal) level, universities, relevant ministries and United Nations agencies working in the health sector. Priority thematic areas that have been prioritized include:
- Research to improve and prolong healthy life
- Health systems research
- Research on the determinants of social, educational and behavioral health and
- Research on health innovations.
During the workshop’s opening remarks, Dr Berhane Debru, Director General of Human Resources Policy, Planning and Development, welcomed participants and explained the timely importance of the priority agenda of the health research. Dr Berhane further explained that due to the transformation of the healthcare delivery system and the dynamics of disease and health issues, it is important that research priorities for the country be determined in the short and long-term. He further stressed that it is essential to rationalize and coordinate the main priorities of health research. He explained that during the process of setting priorities for the health research agenda, the following facts were taken into consideration 1. Research should be demand driven, which can respond to a larger group stakeholders. 2. Scale of burdens, urgency of the topic and response to social justice and equity 3. Research must be accepted ethically, socially and politically. 4. The feasibility of the business is also very critical. 5. Research must complement and avoid duplication of already existing knowledge.
Dr Martins Ovberedjo, WHO Representative, congratulated the Ministry of Health under the leadership of the Honorable Minister of Health, Amina Nurhussien, and thanked all who brought their valuable expertise to the production of the program. priority health. Dr Martins stressed the importance of the priority research agenda as it will accelerate the achievement of the UHC and SDG goals for Eritrea. He explained that research is a constant process of seeking knowledge and information, so it is part of our life today. He also said that our research should not focus solely on academic goals, but rather on making practical improvement in the health of our children, mothers and the general population living in all places of Eritrea. He also reminded participants that research results should be used to guide policy directions and reforms.
During the workshop, participants split into four groups and reviewed the document. Each of the four groups provided comments and a plenary discussion was conducted. Finally, all comments and points have been taken into account, and the main ones have been integrated into the final version of the document. The priority health agenda 2021-2026 will be widely disseminated and made public.