Priority Setting

Date: 26-31 January 2016
Venue: Centara Grand & Bangkok Convention Centre at Central World



The Prince Mahidol Award Conference (PMAC) is an annual international conference focusing on policy-related health issues of global significance. The conference is hosted by the Prince Mahidol Award Foundation, the Thai Ministry of Public Health, Mahidol University and other global partners.  It is an international policy forum that Global Health Institutes, both public and private, can co-own and use for advocacy and for seeking international perspectives on important global health issues. The Conference in 2016 will be co-hosted by the Prince Mahidol Award Foundation, the World Health Organization, the World Bank, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, the Japan International Cooperation Agency, the U.S. Agency for International Development, the China Medical Board, the Rockefeller Foundation, NICE International,  the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and the National Evidence-based Healthcare Collaborating Agency, South Korea with the support from other key related partners.  The Conference will be held in Bangkok, Thailand, from 26 -31 January 2016.


Universal health coverage (UHC) is high on the global agenda as a means to ensure population health, equity and social development. In most countries where current access to essential health care is limited, introducing UHC prompts serious concerns among government leaders on the growing expenditures and demands for public resources. As such, priority setting is indispensable and has been applied at various levels, to ensure that finite health resources can be used in the most cost-effective ways, to provide a high quality and appropriate package of healthcare for the population. At the macro level, priority setting can be used to set limits of the health budget and how much should be spent on health insurance; at the meso level, how much should be spent on infrastructure development and human resources; at the micro level, how much should be spent on particular drugs, technologies, intervention, and policies within a health problem.

Priority setting involves explicit and implicit approaches and the focus of the theme is explicit approaches, which encourages the use of evidence, transparency, and participation. Although priority setting cannot avoid politics, evidence should come first and politics are complementary to what evidence cannot address because evidence-based priority setting can make UHC acceptable and sustainable. It is noteworthy that since health-related decisions are driven by the Health in All Policy notion, priority setting is undertaken not only by policy makers in the Ministry of Health and Health Insurance Office, but also by stakeholders in non-health sectors such as the Ministry of Finance, development partners, and civil society organizations.

The role of health intervention and technology assessment (HITA), not only as a technical exercise but also as a deliberative process, is increasingly recognized as a tool for explicit priority setting, including in the development of the health benefits package, which is an integral part of UHC – what kind of services to provide and to whom. The concept of HITA and its contribution to UHC were endorsed in the resolutions of the WHO Regional Committees for the Americas in 2012 and Southeast Asia in 2013, the Executive Board in January 2014, and the World Health Assembly (WHA) resolution in May 2014. All these resolutions call for movements on capacity building for and introduction of HITA in all countries, especially in those resource-finite settings. It is anticipated that these movements will increase awareness and demand for HITA studies in the health sector. The WHA resolution also requests the WHO Director-General to report back to the WHA in May 2016. Thus the PMAC in January 2016 would be most timely to track the progresses and recommend further actions.


  1. To advocate and build momentum on evidence-informed priority setting and policy decisions to achieve UHC goals;
  2. To advocate for the global movement and collaborations to strengthen the priority setting of health interventions and technology in the long-term;
  3. To share knowledge, experience, and viewpoints on health-related priority setting among organizations and countries; and
  4. To build capacity of policymakers and respective stakeholders for development and introduction of contextually-relevant priority setting mechanisms in support of UHC


The target audience includes policymakers, senior officers, and staff of national bodies that are responsible for the decisions of resource allocation in UHC, including the Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Health and other relevant agencies, HTA agencies, civil society organizations, international organizations and development partners, academic institutes, and industry.


Opening Session & Keynote Address

Opening Plenary: The Primacy of Priority Setting: Global Advocates and Country Realities

Plenary 1: Using Priority Setting Evidence in Making UHC Decisions

Parallel Session 1.1: Evidence for Health Benefits Package Choices: Is Cost-Effectiveness Analysis the Answer?

Parallel Session 1.2: Accountability, Fairness and Good Governance in Priority-Setting for UHC

Parallel Session 1.3: Strengthening Capacity to Produce and Appraise HTA Evidence

Parallel Session 1.4: Human Rights - Entitlement to Health: What Does It Mean in Practice and How Can It Affect Priority Setting for UHC?

Parallel Session 1.5: Priority Setting and Public Health Security: Leveraging UHC Reform for Disease Surveillance Systems in a Globalized World

Plenary 2: Is the Current Evidence Fit-for-Purpose? What Evidence Do Decision Makers Need to Set Priorities in the Future?

Parallel Session 2.1: Demonstrating the Relevance of Economic Evaluation to Multiple Objectives of UHC: What Are the Key Challenges?

Parallel Session 2.2: Missed Opportunities and Opportunity Costs: Reprioritizing UHC Decisions in Light of Emergence of New Technologies, Continued Budget Constraints, and Incentives for Innovation

Parallel Session 2.3: Can You Handle the Truth? Accounting for Politics and Ethics in UHC Is Very Challenging

Parallel Session 2.4: Stakeholder Dynamics in UHC Priority Setting

Parallel Session 2.5: Enabling Better Decisions for Better Health: Embedding Fair and Systematic Processes into Priority-Setting for UHC

Plenary 3: Action Express Priorities: Progressing towards Sustainable UHC / Bangkok Statement

Parallel Session 3.1: Defining the "What", "How" and "for Whom" of UHC: Country Experiences of Developing and Implementing Benefits Plans and Other Tools for Priority-Setting

Parallel Session 3.2: Prioritising Research to Deliver Evidence for UHC: How Can Policy Makers Shape the Research Agenda to What They and Their Populations Need

Parallel Session 3.3: Aligning Local and Global Priorities for Health: The Roles of Governments, CSOs and Development Partners in Setting and Funding for The Priorities

Parallel Session 3.4: Coping with Budget Reductions & Economic Austerity: Implications for UHC Priority Setting

Parallel Session 3.5: Translating Priorities into Action

Plenary 4: Better Decisions for Better Health: from Rhetoric to Reality

Synthesis: Summary, Conclusion & Recommendations