22nd annual ISPOR conference, Boston

by Wanwuri Akor

The 22nd annual international conference of the International Society For Pharmacoeconomics Outcomes Research was held in May 2017 at the Sheraton Hotel in Boston, MA. The conference was both large and interesting and was held over three days with an additional two days of pre-conference courses and workshops. The highlights of the conference can be accessed here and the presentations can be found here. The theme of the conference was “Evidence and value in the time of social change”, which links to some of the findings in my current study on the prioritisation processes in Nigeria. One pertinent issue that rings true in healthcare decision making is what evidence matters? And whose values? The ability to manage the various types of evidence submitted by diverse priority-setting stakeholders is key to the effective and efficient use of scarce resources.

Personally, the highlight of the conference were the pre-conference courses, which for someone without a health economics background, were useful and informative. The range of topics, such as Budget Impact Analysis, Multicriteria Decision Analysis and Basic/Advance Decision Modelling Methods, as well as the hands-on workshops for some topics were really a bonus, as it helped “novices” like me become more confident in applying the acquired knowledge. The conference also held regional specific meetings, students’ competitions as well as a young/new professionals’ session, which highlighted the opportunities in pharmacoeconomics and outcome research. It exposed us to possibilities in the application and use of health economic principles and practice.I had the opportunity to present a poster on my current study (How is health resource allocated in Nigeria?), with the published abstract (PHP 147) accessible here. The electronic version of the poster is also available here. This poster presented some of the initial findings from interviews and questionnaire responses obtained during the field work phase of my doctoral research work. It reported on the approaches to prioritisation in health resource allocation and planning, as well as the factors considered in making these allocations and plans. Most respondents felt that health resources were allocated based on need, which on further exploration during the interviews was used loosely to represent the following: needs (identified through morbidity and mortality data), wants or demands. These needs were also closely linked to political considerations, which wield a great deal of influence over the prioritisation process.

The USS Constitution
The USS Constitution

Finally, it would have been a disservice to leave Boston without visiting the oldest commissioned naval vessel afloat – the USS Constitution. This was particularly intriguing to me having come from an institution in a country with the oldest commissioned naval vessel (HMS Victory) as well as being a citizen of a country with one of the oldest surviving war canoes in Africa and second oldest in the world (Dufuna Canoe).

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