[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Objective
There have been longstanding concerns over Malawian doctors migrating to high-income countries. Early career is a particularly vulnerable period. After significant policy changes, we examined the retention of recent medical graduates within Malawi and the public sector.Methods
We obtained data on graduates between 2006 and 2012 from the University of Malawi College of Medicine and Malawi Ministry of Health. We utilised the alumni network to triangulate official data and contacted graduates directly for missing or uncertain data. Odds ratios and chi-squared tests were employed to investigate relationships by graduation year and gender.ResultsWe traced 256 graduates, with complete information for more than 90%. Nearly 80% of registered doctors were in Malawi (141/178, 79.2%), although the odds of emigration doubled with each year after graduation (odds ratio = 1.98, 95% CI = 1.54–2.56, P < 0.0001). Of the 37 graduates outside Malawi (14.5%), 23 (62.2%) were training in South Africa under a College of Medicine sandwich programme. More than 80% of graduates were working in the public sector (185/218, 82.6%), with the odds declining by 27% for each year after graduation (odds ratio = 0.73, 95% CI = 0.61–0.86, P < 0.0001).Conclusions
While most doctors remain in Malawi and the public sector during their early careers, the odds of leaving both increase with time. The majority of graduates outside Malawi are training in South Africa under visa restrictions, reflecting the positive impact of postgraduate training in Malawi. Concerns over attrition from the public sector are valid and required further exploratory work.
Tropical Medicine & International Health 10/2014; · 2.94 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Improving access to quality-assured artemisinin combination therapies (ACTs) is an important component of malaria control in low- and middle-income countries. In 2010 the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria launched the Affordable Medicines Facility-malaria (AMFm) program in seven African countries. The goal of the program was to decrease malaria morbidity and delay drug resistance by increasing the use of ACTs, primarily through subsidies intended to reduce costs. We collected data on price and retail markups on antimalarial medicines from 19,625 private for-profit retail outlets before and 6-15 months after the program's implementation. We found that in six of the AMFm pilot programs, prices for quality-assured ACTs decreased by US$1.28-$4.34, and absolute retail markups on these therapies decreased by US$0.31-$1.03. Prices and markups on other classes of antimalarials also changed during the evaluation period, but not to the same extent. In all but two of the pilot programs, we found evidence that prices could fall further without suppliers' losing money. Thus, concerns may be warranted that wholesalers and retailers are capturing subsidies instead of passing them on to consumers. These findings demonstrate that supranational subsidies can dramatically reduce retail prices of health commodities and that recommended retail prices communicated to a wide audience may be an effective mechanism for controlling the market power of private-sector antimalarial retailers and wholesalers.
Health affairs (Project Hope). 09/2014; 33(9):1576-85.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Discrete choice experiments have become a popular study design to study the labour market preferences of health workers. Discrete choice experiments in health, however, have been criticised for lagging behind best practice and there are specific methodological considerations for those focused on job choices. We performed a systematic review of the application of discrete choice experiments to inform health workforce policy.
BMC Health Services Research 09/2014; 14(1):367. · 1.77 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: This review aims to identify, assess and analyse the evidence on equity in the distribution of public health sector expenditure in low- and middle-income countries. Four bibliographic databases and five websites were searched to identify quantitative studies examining equity in the distribution of public health funding in individual countries or groups of countries. Two different types of studies were identified: benefit incidence analysis (BIA) and resource allocation comparison (RAC) studies. Quality appraisal and data synthesis were tailored to each study type to reflect differences in the methods used and in the information provided. We identified 39 studies focusing on African, Asian and Latin American countries. Of these, 31 were BIA studies that described the distribution, typically across socio-economic status, of individual monetary benefit derived from service utilization. The remaining eight were RAC studies that compared the actual expenditure across geographic areas to an ideal need-based distribution. Overall, the quality of the evidence from both types of study was relatively weak. Looking across studies, the evidence confirms that resource allocation formulae can enhance equity in resource allocation across geographic areas and that the poor benefits proportionally more from primary health care than from hospital expenditure. The lack of information on the distribution of benefit from utilization in RAC studies and on the countries' approaches to resource allocation in BIA studies prevents further policy analysis. Additional research that relates the type of resource allocation mechanism to service provision and to the benefit distribution is required for a better understanding of equity-enhancing resource allocation policies.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The Affordable Medicines Facility - malaria (AMFm), implemented at national scale in eight African countries or territories, subsidized quality-assured artemisinin combination therapy (ACT) and included communication campaigns to support implementation and promote appropriate anti-malarial use. This paper reports private for-profit provider awareness of key features of the AMFm programme, and changes in provider knowledge of appropriate malaria treatment.
This study had a non-experimental design based on nationally representative surveys of outlets stocking anti-malarials before (2009/10) and after (2011) the AMFm roll-out.
Based on data from over 19,500 outlets, results show that in four of eight settings, where communication campaigns were implemented for 5-9 months, 76%-94% awareness of the AMFm 'green leaf' logo, 57%-74% awareness of the ACT subsidy programme, and 52%-80% awareness of the correct recommended retail price (RRP) of subsidized ACT were recorded. However, in the remaining four settings where communication campaigns were implemented for three months or less, levels were substantially lower. In six of eight settings, increases of at least 10 percentage points in private for-profit providers' knowledge of the correct first-line treatment for uncomplicated malaria were seen; and in three of these the levels of knowledge achieved at endline were over 80%.
The results support the interpretation that, in addition to the availability of subsidized ACT, the intensity of communication campaigns may have contributed to the reported levels of AMFm-related awareness and knowledge among private for-profit providers. Future subsidy programmes for anti-malarials or other treatments should similarly include communication activities.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The Affordable Medicines Facility - malaria (AMFm) is primarily an artemisinin combination therapy (ACT) subsidy, aimed at increasing availability, affordability, market share and use of quality-assured ACTs (QAACTs). Mainland Tanzania was one of eight national scale programmes where AMFm was introduced in 2010. Here we present findings from outlet and household surveys before and after AMFm implementation to evaluate its impact from both the supply and demand side.
Outlet surveys were conducted in 49 randomly selected wards throughout mainland Tanzania in 2010 and 2011, and data on outlet characteristics and stocking patterns were collected from outlets stocking antimalarials. Household surveys were conducted in 240 randomly selected enumeration areas in three regions in 2010 and 2012. Questions about treatment seeking for fever and drugs obtained were asked of individuals reporting fever in the previous two weeks.
The availability of QAACTs increased from 25.5% to 69.5% among all outlet types, with the greatest increase among pharmacies and drug stores, together termed specialised drug sellers (SDSs), where the median QAACT price fell from $5.63 to $0.94. The market share of QAACTs increased from 26.2% to 42.2%, again with the greatest increase in SDSs. Household survey results showed a shift in treatment seeking away from the public sector towards SDSs. Overall, there was no change in the proportion of people with fever obtaining an antimalarial or ACT from baseline to endline. However, when broken down by treatment source, ACT use increased significantly among clients visiting SDSs.
Unchanged ACT use overall, despite increases in QAACT availability, affordability and market share in the private sector, reflected a shift in treatment seeking towards private providers. The reasons for this shift are unclear, but likely reflect both persistent stockouts in public facilities, and the increased availability of subsidised ACTs in the private sector.
PLoS ONE 01/2014; 9(5):e95607. · 3.53 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: This article examines why and how a national health insurance (NHI) proposal targeting universal health coverage (UHC) in Nigeria developed over time. The study involved document reviews, in-depth interviews, a further review of preliminary analysis by relevant actors and use of a stakeholder analysis approach. The need for strategies to improve healthcare funding during the economic recession of the 1980s stimulated the proposal. The inclusion of Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs) as financing organizations for national health insurance at the expense of sub-national (state) government mechanisms increased credibility of policy implementation but resulted in loss of support from states. The most successful period of the policy process occurred when a new minister of health (strongly supported by the president that displayed interest in UHC) provided leadership through the Federal Ministry of Health (FMOH), and effectively managed stakeholders’ interests and galvanized their support to advance the
Health Policy and Planning 01/2014; · 3.06 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: As agents for their patients, providers often make treatment decisions on behalf of patients, and their choices can affect health outcomes. However, providers operate within a network of relationships and are agents not only for their patients, but also other health sector actors, such as their employer, the Ministry of Health, and pharmaceutical suppliers. Providers’ stated preferences for the treatment of uncomplicated malaria were examined to determine what factors predict their choice of treatment in the absence of information and institutional constraints, such as the stock of medicines or the patient’s ability to pay.
518 providers working at non-profit health facilities and for-profit pharmacies and drug stores in Yaoundé and Bamenda in Cameroon and in Enugu State in Nigeria were surveyed between July and December 2009 to elicit the antimalarial they prefer to supply for uncomplicated malaria. Multilevel modelling was used to determine the effect of financial and non-financial incentives on their preference, while controlling for information and institutional constraints, and accounting for the clustering of providers within facilities and geographic areas.
69% of providers stated a preference for artemisinin-combination therapy (ACT), which is the recommended treatment for uncomplicated malaria in Cameroon and Nigeria. A preference for ACT was significantly associated with working at a for-profit facility, reporting that patients prefer ACT, and working at facilities that obtain antimalarials from drug company representatives. Preferences were similar among colleagues within a facility, and among providers working in the same locality. Knowing the government recommends ACT was a significant predictor, though having access to clinical guidelines was not sufficient.
Providers are agents serving multiple principals and their preferences over alternative antimalarials were influenced by patients, drug company representatives, and other providers working at the same facility and in the local area. Efforts to disseminate drug policy should target the full range of actors involved in supplying drugs, including providers, employers, suppliers and local communities.
Social Science [?] Medicine 01/2014; · 2.73 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Private for-profit outlets are important treatment sources for malaria in most endemic countries. However, these outlets constitute only the last link in a chain of businesses that includes manufacturers, importers and wholesalers, all of which influence the availability, price and quality of antimalarials patients can access. We present evidence on the composition, characteristics and operation of these distribution chains and of the businesses that comprise them in six endemic countries (Benin, Cambodia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Nigeria, Uganda and Zambia).
We conducted nationally representative surveys of antimalarial wholesalers during 2009-2010 using an innovative sampling approach that captured registered and unregistered distribution channels, complemented by in-depth interviews with a range of stakeholders. Antimalarial distribution chains were pyramidal in shape, with antimalarials passing through a maximum of 4-6 steps between manufacturer and retailer; however, most likely pass through 2-3 steps. Less efficacious non-artemisinin therapies (e.g. chloroquine) dominated weekly sales volumes among African wholesalers, while volumes for more efficacious artemisinin-based combination therapies (ACTs) were many times smaller. ACT sales predominated only in Cambodia. In all countries, consumer demand was the principal consideration when selecting products to stock. Selling prices and reputation were key considerations regarding supplier choice. Business practices varied across countries, with large differences in the proportions of wholesalers offering credit and delivery services to customers, and the types of distribution models adopted by businesses. Regulatory compliance also varied across countries, particularly with respect to licensing. The proportion of wholesalers possessing any up-to-date licence from national regulators was lowest in Benin and Nigeria, where vendors in traditional markets are important antimalarial supply sources.
The structure and characteristics of antimalarial distribution chains vary across countries; therefore, understanding the wholesalers that comprise them should inform efforts aiming to improve access to quality treatment through the private sector.
PLoS ONE 01/2014; 9(4):e93763. · 3.53 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: There is increased interest in using commercial providers for improving access to quality malaria treatment. Understanding their current role is an essential first step, notably in terms of the volume of diagnostics and anti-malarials they sell. Sales volume data can be used to measure the importance of different provider and product types, frequency of parasitological diagnosis and impact of interventions. Several methods for measuring sales volumes are available, yet all have methodological challenges and evidence is lacking on the comparability of different methods.
Using sales volume data on anti-malarials and rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs) for malaria collected through provider recall (RC) and retail audits (RA), this study measures the degree of agreement between the two methods at wholesale and retail commercial providers in Cambodia following the Bland-Altman approach. Relative strengths and weaknesses of the methods were also investigated through qualitative research with fieldworkers.
A total of 67 wholesalers and 107 retailers were sampled. Wholesale sales volumes were estimated through both methods for 62 anti-malarials and 23 RDTs and retail volumes for 113 anti-malarials and 33 RDTs. At wholesale outlets, RA estimates for anti-malarial sales were on average higher than RC estimates (mean difference of four adult equivalent treatment doses (95% CI 0.6-7.2)), equivalent to 30% of mean sales volumes. For RDTs at wholesalers, the between-method mean difference was not statistically significant (one test, 95% CI -6.0-4.0). At retail outlets, between-method differences for both anti-malarials and RDTs increased with larger volumes being measured, so mean differences were not a meaningful measure of agreement between the methods. Qualitative research revealed that in Cambodia where sales volumes are small, RC had key advantages: providers were perceived to remember more easily their sales volumes and find RC less invasive; fieldworkers found it more convenient; and it was cheaper to implement than RA.Discussion/conclusions: Both RA and RC had implementation challenges and were prone to data collection errors. Choice of empirical methods is likely to have important implications for data quality depending on the study context.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In low- and middle-income countries, government budgets are rarely sufficient to cover a public hospital's operating costs. Shortfalls are typically financed through a combination of health insurance contributions and user charges. The mixed nature of this financing arrangement potentially creates financial incentives to treat patients with equal health need unequally. Using data from the Philippines, the authors analyzed whether doctors respond to such incentives. After controlling for a patient's condition, they found that patients using insurance, paying more for hospital accommodation, and being treated in externally monitored hospitals were likely to receive more care. This highlights the worrying possibility that public hospital patients with equal health needs are not always equally treated.
Asia-Pacific Journal of Public Health 02/2013; · 1.06 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND: In recent years an increasing number of public investments and policy changes have been made to improve the availability, affordability and quality of medicines available to consumers in developing countries, including anti-malarials. It is important to monitor the extent to which these interventions are successful in achieving their aims using quantitative data on the supply side of the market. There are a number of challenges related to studying supply, including outlet sampling, gaining provider cooperation and collecting accurate data on medicines. This paper provides guidance on key steps to address these issues when conducting a medicine outlet survey in a developing country context. While the basic principles of good survey design and implementation are important for all surveys, there are a set of specific issues that should be considered when conducting a medicine outlet survey. METHODS: This paper draws on the authors' experience of designing and implementing outlet surveys, including the lessons learnt from ACTwatch outlet surveys on anti-malarial retail supply, and other key studies in the field. Key lessons and points of debate are distilled around the following areas: selecting a sample of outlets; techniques for collecting and analysing data on medicine availability, price and sales volumes; and methods for ensuring high quality data in general.Results and conclusions: The authors first consider the inclusion criteria for outlets, contrasting comprehensive versus more focused approaches. Methods for developing a reliable sampling frame of outlets are then presented, including use of existing lists, key informants and an outlet census. Specific issues in the collection of data on medicine prices and sales volumes are discussed; and approaches for generating comparable price and sales volume data across products using the adult equivalent treatment dose (AETD) are explored. The paper concludes with advice on practical considerations, including questionnaire design, field worker training, and data collection. Survey materials developed by ACTwatch for investigating anti-malarial markets in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia provide a helpful resource for future studies in this area.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We examine the impact of removing user fees for healthcare in rural Ghana using data from a randomized experiment that includes rich information on objective measures of child health status. We find that free care increased use of formal healthcare shifting care seeking away from informal providers, with particularly strong effects for children who were anaemic at baseline. There was no health effect on the intervention population taken overall. However, consistent with the utilization findings, there were health improvements among those with anaemia initially. Further benefits included a large reduction in health spending, with the effect greater at higher levels of the medical spending distribution. Free care was found to have no influence on a range of malaria prevention behaviours or on the incidence of self-reported illness, suggesting that ex-ante moral hazard is unlikely to be a concern in this particular setting. (JEL D12, I10, I18, I31)
Journal of Development Economics 01/2013; · 2.13 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND: The paper presents evidence about the distribution of the benefits of public expenditures on a subset of priority public health services that are supposed to be provided free of charge in the public sector, using the framework of benefit incidence analysis. METHODS: The study took place in 2 rural and 2 urban Local Government Areas from Enugu and Anambra states, southeast Nigeria. A questionnaire was used to collect data on use of the priority public health services by all individuals in the households (n=22,169). The level of use was disaggregated by socio-economic status (SES), rural-urban location and gender. Benefits were valued using the cost of providing the service. Net benefit incidence was calculated by subtracting payments made for services from the value of benefits. RESULTS: The results showed that 3,281 (14.8%) individuals consumed wholly free services. There was a greater consumption of most free services by rural dwellers, females and those from poorer SES quintiles (but not for insecticide-treated nets and ante-natal care services). High levels of payment were observed for immunisation services, insecticide-treated nets, anti-malarial medicines, antenatal care and childbirth services, all of which are supposed to be provided for free. The net benefits were significantly higher for the rural residents, males and the poor compared to the urban residents, females and better-off quintiles. CONCLUSION: It is concluded that coverage of all of these priority public health services fell well below target levels, but the poorer quintiles and rural residents that are in greater need received more benefits, although not so for females. Payments for services that are supposed to be delivered free of charge suggests that there may have been illegal payments which probably hindered access to the public health services.
International Journal for Equity in Health 11/2012; 11(1):70. · 1.71 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND: Malaria is one of the greatest causes of mortality worldwide. Use of the most effective treatments for malaria remains inadequate for those in need, and there is concern over the emergence of resistance to these treatments. In 2010, the Global Fund launched the Affordable Medicines Facility-malaria (AMFm), a series of national-scale pilot programmes designed to increase the access and use of quality-assured artemisinin based combination therapies (QAACTs) and reduce that of artemisinin monotherapies for treatment of malaria. AMFm involves manufacturer price negotiations, subsidies on the manufacturer price of each treatment purchased, and supporting interventions such as communications campaigns. We present findings on the effect of AMFm on QAACT price, availability, and market share, 6-15 months after the delivery of subsidised ACTs in Ghana, Kenya, Madagascar, Niger, Nigeria, Uganda, and Tanzania (including Zanzibar). METHODS: We did nationally representative baseline and endpoint surveys of public and private sector outlets that stock antimalarial treatments. QAACTs were identified on the basis of the Global Fund's quality assurance policy. Changes in availability, price, and market share were assessed against specified success benchmarks for 1 year of AMFm implementation. Key informant interviews and document reviews recorded contextual factors and the implementation process. FINDINGS: In all pilots except Niger and Madagascar, there were large increases in QAACT availability (25·8-51·9 percentage points), and market share (15·9-40·3 percentage points), driven mainly by changes in the private for-profit sector. Large falls in median price for QAACTs per adult equivalent dose were seen in the private for-profit sector in six pilots, ranging from US$1·28 to $4·82. The market share of oral artemisinin monotherapies decreased in Nigeria and Zanzibar, the two pilots where it was more than 5% at baseline. INTERPRETATION: Subsidies combined with supporting interventions can be effective in rapidly improving availability, price, and market share of QAACTs, particularly in the private for-profit sector. Decisions about the future of AMFm should also consider the effect on use in vulnerable populations, access to malaria diagnostics, and cost-effectiveness. FUNDING: The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Neonatal mortality accounts for 43% of global under-five deaths and is decreasing more slowly than maternal or child mortality. Donor funding has increased for maternal, newborn, and child health (MNCH), but no analysis to date has disaggregated aid for newborns. We evaluated if and how aid flows for newborn care can be tracked, examined changes in the last decade, and considered methodological implications for tracking funding for specific population groups or diseases.
We critically reviewed and categorised previous analyses of aid to specific populations, diseases, or types of activities. We then developed and refined key terms related to newborn survival in seven languages and searched titles and descriptions of donor disbursement records in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development's Creditor Reporting System database, 2002-2010. We compared results with the Countdown to 2015 database of aid for MNCH (2003-2008) and the search strategy used by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation. Prior to 2005, key terms related to newborns were rare in disbursement records but their frequency increased markedly thereafter. Only two mentions were found of "stillbirth" and only nine references were found to "fetus" in any spelling variant or language. The total value of non-research disbursements mentioning any newborn search terms rose from US$38.4 million in 2002 to US$717.1 million in 2010 (constant 2010 US$). The value of non-research projects exclusively benefitting newborns fluctuated somewhat but remained low, at US$5.7 million in 2010. The United States and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) provided the largest value of non-research funding mentioning and exclusively benefitting newborns, respectively.
Donor attention to newborn survival has increased since 2002, but it appears unlikely that donor aid is commensurate with the 3.0 million newborn deaths and 2.7 million stillbirths each year. We recommend that those tracking funding for other specific population groups, diseases, or activities consider a key term search approach in the Creditor Reporting System along with a detailed review of their data, but that they develop their search terms and interpretations carefully, taking into account the limitations described. Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary.
PLoS Medicine 10/2012; 9(10):e1001332. · 15.25 Impact Factor