How public policy could enable the Knowledge Economy: The Case of Healthcare Sector in Tunisia

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  • 2018-10-11


How public policy could enable the Knowledge Economy: The Case of the Tunisian Healthcare Sector
Mondher Khanfir1 and Sana Ayari-Riabi2
It's thanks to its diversified resources and young population that the African continent will address the huge challenges of the millennium development goals adopted by the United Nations and endorsed by most of African countries. Namely, innovation in education and health will be the main driver of a sustainable growth and equal wellness, hitting the path to a bigger chance to ensure the rise of a Knowledge Based Economy (KBE).
Tunisia appears as a “bridge head” for the shift towards a KBE, as its development policies are mainly focusing on Human Capital, through Education and Health, along with Information Technologies. All this makes the country to be in a good position laid on strong foundations to address the challenges of the KBE.
The next step for Tunisia is to invest in some specific value chains to valorize its industrial capability through scientific research outcomes commercialization and to enter the battle field of global competitiveness. More specifically, the Tunisian health sector is giving a good illustration of the potential of a Knowledge Economy, as it represents a global industry connecting many value chains, and it’s in a junction of numerous scientific and technological domains, that need to combine medical knowledge with practices through technologies. Seeking for higher performance in healthcare services delivery makes a favorable ground for the generation of new types of high potential and fast-growing businesses, supposed to drag out more job opportunities for young graduates. The country has already all the ingredient of a National Innovation System (NIS) that produces a lot of research works in the medical sector. Even though it still requires better orientation and collaboration between its different components, it is already showing up an interesting Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) potential to be valorized.
This paper aims to investigate to which extent the development of healthcare sector could be the ground for a KBE. It relays on a documentary researches and field observations involving a wide array of professionals from public and private sectors, using data collection and analysis. Through a specific assessment methodology, crossing KBE pillars with public policy instruments, we identified strength and weakness of healthcare sector, and rose out some strategic options to position it as a leading Knowledge Based Industry (KBI) in Tunisia and the region.
The paper is structured as follows: Sections 1 and 2 present a synthesis of the data collection and literature review on the Tunisian Health sector. Section 3 introduces the concept of knowledge based industry. Section 4 and 5 brings a framework for assessing public policies instruments and outlines prospects of the Tunisian health sector as a knowledge based industry. This work is concluded by some orientations for policy makers to understand the drivers that led to the current achievements in the Health sector and the new leverages to accelerated growth and innovation thanks to the pillars of the knowledge economy.