Health Sector Working Group Terms of Reference

Terms of Reference for the Health Sector Working Group (HSWG) and Technical Working Groups (TWGs)

These terms of reference clarify the Health Sector Working Group’s (HSWG) background, objectives, leadership, membership, modalities and frequency of meetings under the Economic Development and Poverty Reduction Strategy (EDPRS) institutional framework.  

1.  Background

Since  2008,  the  Government  of  Rwanda  started  implementing  its  second  generation Poverty Reduction Strategy, the EDPRS, which covered the period 2008-2012. Currently GoR is implementing its second EDPRS which runs from 2013-2018 and represents the comprehensive development agenda of the nation in the medium term which is aligned to the Vision 2020 and embeds the spirit of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).   The EDPRS is a national strategy which involves all stakeholders at all levels in its elaboration and the same approach has and will be maintained during the implementation and evaluation phases, hence the need to continue to strengthen the SWG approach.  

2.  Membership

The HSWG brings together Central and Local government institutions, Development Partners, Civil Society and the Private Sector involved in the Sector or with an interest in the Sector’s development. Members of the HSWG include but are not confined to the following;

·         The Ministry of Health (MOH) and its implementing agencies (e.g., RBC)

·         Development Partners active in the sector

·         Prime Minister’s Office

·         Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning (MINECOFIN)

·         Representative of the Ministry of Local Government

·         Civil Society

·         Private sector institutions

·         Health-related institutions of higher learning (e.g., KHI)  

3.  Objectives

The overall objective of the HSWG is to;  

·         Provide  a  forum  for  dialogue,  ownership  and  accountability  of  the  development  agenda  by  all stakeholders at Sector level.

·         Build synergies in policy formulation, implementation and enhance regular reviews.  

The specific objectives of the Health Sector Working Group are:  

·         Coordination of activities within the sector and ensure alignment and harmonization to reach sector outcomes

·         To develop and update the Health Sector Strategic Plan (HSSP)

·         To update the Health Sector Logical Framework (log frame) as needed

·         To develop, update and validate the sector M&E Framework

·         To Conduct Joint Sector Reviews (JSR) at least twice a year as per planning calendar; and timely disseminate related reports

·         To strengthen the Sector-wide Approach (SWAp).

·         Facilitate  dialogue  and  report  to  MINECOFIN  on  Sector  Budget  Support  (SBS)  -related indicators, including EDPRS indicators related to the sector

·         Regularly discuss issues related to sector budgets (according to requirements of SBS donors and/or donors contributing to joint financing mechanisms)

·         Mobilizing of resources for the sector in line with Rwanda’s Aid Policy  

4.  Key roles and responsibilities

  4.1 Ministry of Health (Chair of the HSWG)  

It is the responsibility of Ministry of Health (Chair) to:    

·         Convene HSWG meetings, including setting the agenda in consultation with the lead donor (co- chair).

·         Chair HSWG meetings.

·         Ensure relevant government institutions, civil society organizations and private sector are invited to participate in the HSWG and its Technical Working Groups (TWGs).

·         Prepare bi-annual backward- and forward-looking JSR  meeting, including necessary background documents,  such  as  progress  reports  on  the  status  of  Sector  Strategy  implementation,  budget execution reports, etc.; these reports should be shared with SWG members.

·         Lead the preparation and update of the Health Sector Strategic Plan and present it to the HSWG for validation.

·         Lead the development the Sector M&E framework, present it to the HSWG for validation, and ensure its operationalization.

·         Update the Health Sector log frame as needed and present such updates to the HSWG for validation. 

·         Update the health-specific elements of the EDPRS matrix.

·         Communicate all relevant information concerning the HSWG to members; this may include strategic documents, reports, meeting agenda and schedules.

·         Establish TWGs wherever necessary and appropriate.

·         Assign to member institutions of the HSWG any other relevant work as deemed necessary and appropriate.

·         Mobilize resources for the sector in line with Rwanda’s Aid Policy.

  4.2 Lead Donor (Co-chair)

It is the responsibility of the lead donor (Co-chair) to:  

·         Co-Chair HSWG meetings.

·         Assist MOH with the coordination of the HSWG and to ensure the donors active in the sector are fully represented in every HSWG meeting.

·         Support MOH in preparation of Joint Sector Reviews.

·         Coordinate common donor responses and activities in line with sector priorities and plans.

·         Approve the updated EDPRS health sector matrix annually with the Chair.

·         Contribute to the mobilization of resources for the Sector in collaboration with MOH.

·         Contribute to the improvement of the donors scoring in the HSWG on the Development Partners   Assessment Framework (DPAF).

·         Co-sign the agreed minutes of HSWG meetings

·         Contribute actively to and ensure effective dialogue within the health sector.  

An  alternate  lead  donor,  nominated  by Development  Partners,  assists  the  lead  donor  (Co-chair)  in discharging its duties and serves as the de facto Co-chair in the absence of the lead donor.   NB: The Chair of the HSWG may notify MINECOFIN of a request to change the Co-chair. However, the Development Partners Coordination Group (DPCG) has the mandate to approve the new Co-chair.  

4.3 Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning (MINECOFIN)

It is the responsibility of MINECOFIN to:   

·         Provide overall Leadership.

·         Act as a second Co-chair in Joint Sector Reviews.

·         Provide strategic orientation on the planning, budgeting as well as monitoring and evaluation process to the HSWG.  

5.  Frequency of meetings

The HSWG holds its meetings at least on a quarterly basis. However, the HSWG may convene extra meetings whenever the Chair and Co-Chair deem appropriate.   In line with the national planning calendar, the HSWG will convene as the Joint Sector Review (JSR) forum. The first JSR will be primarily backward-looking, focusing on sector performance as agreed in the EDPRS sector matrix and budget execution for the previous fiscal year. Backward-looking reviews will typically be held during the first quarter of the new Fiscal Year. The chair and co-chair will make sure that backward-looking JSRs are conducted in line with the terms of reference provided by MINECOFIN. Budget Support donors are requested to provide firm commitments of budget support by 15th January beginning of 3rd quarter – to the extent possible.   The second JSR will be mainly forward-looking, focusing on plans and proposed budget outlays for the next Fiscal Year and medium-term. These plans will be aligned to sector strategic plans and EDPRS. Forward-looking Joint Sector Reviews will typically be held toward the end of the third quarter of the Fiscal Year in line with the terms of reference provided by MINECOFIN so that they can inform annual budget preparatios.  

6.   Reporting and information sharing

The HSWG reports directly to MINECOFIN through its Chair. The Chair of the HSWG also reports to the Chairs of the EDPRS Thematic Areas (currently, Economic Transformation, Rural Development, Productivity and Youth Employment; and Accountable Governance) to which the HSWG directly contributes. The HSWG chair will ensure forward and backward linkages between  the HSWG and EDPRS Thematic Working groups, including in terms of information sharing and updates on progress.   Within the HSWG, the reporting system is to be facilitated by a secretariat composed of at least one representative from the Lead Ministry, Lead Donor and MINECOFIN.  The goal of the secretariat is to ensure the effective functioning and coordination within the sector.   Specific tasks of the secretariat include:  

·         Developing agendas for HSWG meetings;

·         Recording meeting minutes;

·         Ensuring monitoring and follow-up of decisions taken in the meetings;

·         Ensuring coordination and coherence within the HSWG;

·         Circulating/publishing information to all HSWG members through their e-mail or web site, ·         Managing logistics for the HSWG.  

The secretariat will be working closely with planners and budget officers from Ministries/agencies and technical officers from member institutions of Development Partners, Private Sector and Civil Society. It is the responsibility of all the members of the HSWG to share information relating to their development interventions as required by the HSWG Chair.  

7.  Technical Working Groups

Since 2009, several Technical Working Groups (TWGs) operating under the authority of the HSWG were established with the main objective of supporting and advising the HSWG in the overall implementation of the SWAp, including the implementation of sub-sector strategies and policies and the development of relevant guidelines and tools to be used by the implementing agencies. The TWGs were expected to facilitate the alignment of all interventions with the National Health Policy and to support the development and implementation of the Health Sector Strategic Plan (HSSP). In 2013, the Health Sector TWGs were restructured to reduce their number as well as improve their effectiveness and efficiency. The twelve current TWGs are diagrammatically depicted in Annex 1.  

7.1 Roles and Functions of Health Technical Working Groups

The health TWGs play a key role in facilitating coordination, information sharing, and policy dialogue at the sub-sector level.  They will interface with the HSWG via both “top-down” and “bottom-up” roles:   ·          “Top-down”: Sub-sector policies and strategic directions determined at the HSWG level and/or identified and agreed upon in the Joint Health Sector Reviews are passed down to the TWGs for support in operational planning and execution, and to develop relevant guidelines and tools to be used by the implementing agencies.   ·          “Bottom-up”: By virtue of their knowledge of the context, realities, successes and challenges of the health system in Rwanda, and the specificity of their technical expertise, the TWGs will recommend  policy and  strategic  modifications,  and  propose  innovations  to  the HSWG.  The TWGs will also support the HSWG in the development of evidence-based policies and strategies.   The TWGs will report quarterly to the HSWG (see Annex 2 for the reporting template) against a work plan that focusses on substantive outputs. The work plan can be adjusted once a year as a result of decisions taken in the forward-looking JHSR.     Annex 3 describes the scope of each TWG’s work in general terms.  TWGs are not required to develop individual terms of reference and are free to organize themselves as they deem necessary, including through the establishment of more specialized sub-working groups, in order to fulfil their work plans.  

7.2 Composition of TWGs

·         Chair: Relevant heads of Departments or Units at MOH or RBC.

·         Co-Chair: A representative of DPs elected by the members of the Development Partners Group (DPG) according to the institution’s expertise in the technical area of the TWG and its capacity to contribute meaningfully to the technical area in regards to staff skills and time.

·         Alternate Co-Chair: A representative of DPs elected by the members of the DPG that assists the Co- chair in discharging its duties and serves as the de facto Co-chair in its absence.

·         Secretary: A member elected by the TWG. ·        

Membership:  MOH,  Development  Partners,  including  CSOs  and  Private  Sector  working  in  the specific TWG area.   The TWGs will meet monthly in ordinary sessions and can schedule ad hoc meetings as determined necessary by the chair and co-chair.