Health Policy and Planning

Published by Oxford University Press (OUP)
Online ISSN: 1460-2237
Publications
Example of social network: the case of the eye care programme in the Brong Ahafo region, January 2010. Each square represents an actor and the arrow a relationship between two actors (i.e. the existence of a flow of information between two actors). ( Source : Karl Blanchet) 
Article
The main challenges in international health are to scale up effective health interventions in low- and middle-income countries in order to reach a higher proportion of the population. This can be achieved through better insight into how health systems are structured. Social network analysis can provide an appropriate and innovative paradigm for the health systems researcher, allow new analyses of the structure of health systems, and facilitate understanding of the role of stakeholders within a health system. The social network analysis methodology adapted to health systems research and described in detail by the authors comprises three main stages: (i) describing the set of actors and members of the network; (ii) characterizing the relationships between actors; and (iii) analysing the structure of the systems. Evidence generated through social network analysis could help policy makers to understand how health systems react over time and to better adjust health programmes and innovations to the capacities of health systems in low- and middle-income countries to achieve universal coverage.
 
Article
Immunization in India is marked with stark disparities across gender, caste, wealth and place of residence with severe shortfalls among those disadvantaged in more than one dimension. In this regard, an explicit recognition of intersectionality and intersectional inequalities has 2-fold relevance; one, being the pathway of health inequality and the other being its role as a deterrent of progress particularly at higher (better) levels of health. Against this backdrop, this study examines intersectional inequalities in immunization in India and also suggests a level-sensitive progress assessment method. The study uses group analogue of Gini coefficient for highlighting the magnitude of intersectional inequality and for comprehending its association with immunization level. The results unravel the plight of vulnerable intersectional groups and draw attention to disquieting shortfalls among female SCST (scheduled castes and tribes) children from rural areas. There is also some evidence to indicate leveraging among rural males in matters of immunization and it is further discerned that such gender advantage is greater among rural non-SCST community than the rural SCST group. In concluding, the study calls for intensive immunization planning to improve coverage among vulnerable communities in both rural and urban areas.
 
Article
Methods Number of measles cases and routine measles vaccination coverage reported by each district were obtained from the National Health Management Information System reports of 1997 to 2007. The immunization coverage by district in a given year was calculated by dividing the number of children immunized by the projected population in the same age category. Annual measles incidence for each year was derived by dividing the number of cases in a year by the mid-year projected population. Commercial measles IgM enzyme-linked immunoassay kits were used to confirm measles cases. Results Routine measles immunization coverage increased from 64% in 1997 to 90% in 2004, then stabilized around 87%. The 2003 national measles catch-up and 2006 follow-up campaigns reached 100% of children targeted with a measles supplemental dose. Over 80% coverage was also achieved with other child survival interventions. Case-based measles surveillance was rolled out nationwide to provide continuous epidemiological monitoring of measles occurrence. Following a 93% decline in measles incidence and no measles deaths, epidemic resurgence of measles occurred 3 years after a measles campaign targeting a wide age group, but no indigenous measles virus (D(10)) was isolated. Recurrence was delayed in regions where children were offered an early second opportunity for measles vaccination. Conclusion The integrated routine and campaign approach to providing a second opportunity for measles vaccination is effective in interrupting indigenous measles transmission and can be used to deliver other child survival interventions. Measles control can be sustained and the inter-epidemic interval lengthened by offering an early second opportunity for measles vaccination through other health delivery strategies.
 
Article
To determine (a) whether the influence of the determinants of family planning use in Pakistan changed between 1990-91 and 2006-07, and (b) if these changes were associated with changes in the method mix. Data from the Pakistan Demographic and Health Surveys (PDHS) of 1990-91 and 2006-07 were used in the analyses. Data on 5184 married, non-pregnant, fecund women in 1990-91 and 8041 married, non-pregnant, fecund women in 2006-07 were used. Logistic regression analysis was used to identify factors associated with the use of any contraceptive method and whether the influence of these factors changed between the survey years. Changes in the method mix were examined. The effects of urban/rural residence, wealth and education on contraceptive use changed between 1990-91 and 2006-07. Differentials in contraceptive use by residence, wealth and education declined and were accompanied by changes in the method mix. In rural areas and among less-educated women, the contribution of traditional methods to the method mix increased. Among the poorest women, the method mix shifted towards traditional methods and condoms. Less-educated, rural, Pakistani women increased the use of family planning at a faster rate than more-educated, urban, women by adopting the use of traditional family planning methods. Poor women also increased family planning use more quickly than non-poor women, by adopting condoms and traditional methods. The more rapid increase in the demand for family planning among poorer, less-educated, rural women is a positive trend. In order to convert this demand into the use of longer-term modern methods, however, access to high quality services must be improved in rural and low-income urban areas.
 
Cumulative number of accredited ART clinics over time in South Africa. Source: author's calculations using Department of Health monthly facility reports for 2004–08  
Descriptive statistics of CMP sample
Geographic distribution of accredited ART clinics in August 2008. Map shows province boundaries (in black), district boundaries (in gray) and the six metropolitan areas (labelled). Reproduced with permission from McLaren (2010)  
Effect of local characteristics on local coverage rates of AIDS treatment in a CMP for all facilities (Panel A) and excluding patients at regional and district hospitals (Panel B)
Article
Low- and middle-income country governments face the challenge of ensuring an equitable distribution of public resources, based on need rather than socioeconomic status, race or political affiliation. This study examines factors that may influence public service provision in developing countries by analysing the 2004-08 implementation of government-provided AIDS treatment in South Africa, the largest programme of its kind in the world. Despite assurances from the National Department of Health, some have raised concerns about whether the rollout was in fact conducted equitably. This study addresses these concerns. This is the first study to assemble high-quality national data on a broad set of census main place (CMP) characteristics that the public health, economic and political science literature have found influence public service provision. Multivariate logistic regression and duration (survival) analysis were used to identify characteristics associated with a more rapid public provision of anti-retroviral therapy (ART) in South Africa. Overall, no clear pattern emerges of the rollout systematically favouring better-off CMPs, and in general the magnitude of statistically significant associations is small. The centralization of the early phases of the rollout to maximize ART enrolment led to higher ART coverage rates in areas where district and regional hospitals were located. Ultimately, these results demonstrate that the provision of life-saving AIDS treatment was not disproportionately delayed in disadvantaged areas. The combination of a clear policy objective, limited bureaucratic discretion and monitoring by civil society ensured equitable access to AIDS treatment. This work highlights the potential for future public investment in South Africa and other developing countries to reduce health and economic disparities. Published by Oxford University Press in association with The London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine © The Author 2014; all rights reserved.
 
Example concentration curve: antenatal home visit coverage for intervention district, baseline (2001-02) versus endline (2004-05) 
Coverage and behaviour change indicators and definitions Indicator Definition Antenatal care AN home visit Received at least one home visit from an auxiliary nurse midwife, anganwadi worker, and/or change agent during pregnancy 
Antenatal and postnatal (28 days) home visitation a coverage by wealth quintile and change in concentration indices (CI) b for intervention and comparison districts, baseline (2001-02) and endline (2004-05) 
Continued 
Article
Socio-economic disparities in health have been well documented around the world. This study examines whether NGO facilitation of the government's community-based health programme improved the equity of maternal and newborn health in rural Uttar Pradesh, India. A quasi-experimental study design included one intervention district and one comparison district of rural Uttar Pradesh. A household survey conducted between January and June 2003 established baseline rates of programme coverage, maternal and newborn care practices, and health care utilization during 2001-02. An endline household survey was conducted after 30 months of programme implementation between January and March 2006 to measure the same indicators during 2004-05. The changes in the indicators from baseline to endline in the intervention and comparison districts were calculated by socio-economic quintiles, and concentration indices were constructed to measure the equity of programme indicators. The equity of programme coverage and antenatal and newborn care practices improved from baseline to endline in the intervention district while showing little change in the comparison district. Equity in health care utilization for mothers and newborns also showed some improvements in the intervention district, but notable socio-economic differentials remained, with the poor demonstrating less ability to access health services. NGO facilitation of government programmes is a feasible strategy to improve equity of maternal and neonatal health programmes. Improvements in equity were most pronounced for household practices, and inequities were still apparent in health care utilization. Furthermore, overall programme coverage remained low, limiting the ability to address equity. Programmes need to identify and address barriers to universal coverage and care utilization, particularly in the poorest segments of the population.
 
Article
Unlabelled: BACKGROUND; Measuring country performance in health has focused on assessing predicted vs observed levels of outcomes, an indicator that varies slowly over time. An alternative is to measure performance in terms of the rate of change in how a selected outcome compares to what would be expected given contextual determinants. Rates of change in health indicators can prove more sensitive than levels to changes in social, intersectoral or health policy context. It is thus similar to the growth rate of gross domestic product in the economic context. We assess performance in the rate of change (decline) of under-five mortality for 113 low- and middle-income countries. Methods: For 1970-2010, we study the evolution in rates of decline of under-five mortality. For each decade, we define performance as the average of the difference between the observed rate of decline and a rate of decline predicted by a model controlling for the contextual factors of income, female education levels, decade and geographical location. Results: In the 1970s, the top performer in the rate of decline of under-five mortality was Costa Rica. In the 2000s, the top performer was Turkey. Overall, performance in rates of decline correlated little with performance in levels of under-five mortality. A major transition in performance between decades suggests a change in underlying determinants and we report the magnitude of these transitions. For example, heavily AIDS impacted countries, such as Botswana, experienced major drops in performance between the 1980s and the 1990s and some, including Botswana, experienced major compensatory improvements between the 1990s and the 2000s. Conclusions: Rate-based measures of country performance in health provide a starting point for assessments of the importance of health system, social and intersectoral determinants of performance.
 
Article
Background: Studies have often ignored examining the role of community- and district-level factors in the utilization of maternity healthcare services, particularly in Indian contexts. The Social Determinants of Health framework emphasizes the role of governance and government policies, the measures for which are rarely incorporated in single-level individual analysis. This study examines factors associated with maternal healthcare utilization in nine high focus states in India, which shares more than half of the total maternal deaths in the country; accounting for individual-, household-, community- and district-level characteristics. Methods: The required data are extracted from the third round of the nationally representative District Level Household and Facility Survey conducted during 2007-08. Multilevel analyses were applied to three maternity outcomes, namely, four or more antenatal care visits, skilled birth attendance and post-natal care after birth. Findings: Results show that along with individual-/household-level factors, community and district-level factors influence the pattern of utilization of maternal healthcare services significantly. At the community level, the odds of maternal healthcare utilization were lower in rural areas and in communities with a high concentration of poor and illiterate women. Moreover, the average population coverage of primary health centres (PHCs), availability of labour room in PHC and percentage of registered pregnancies were significant factors at the district level that influenced the use of maternity care services. The study also found a strong association between the extent of previous use of maternal healthcare and its effect on subsequent usage patterns. Conclusion: This study highlights the role of strengthening public health infrastructure at district level in the study area, and promoting awareness about available healthcare services and subsidized schemes in the community. To reach out to rural and underprivileged communities and to apply a participatory approach from the programme officials are issues to delve into.
 
Article
It is generally assumed that socioeconomic development interventions for the poor will enhance their material and social capacities to prevent ill health and to seek appropriate and timely care. Using cross-sectional data from surveys undertaken in 1995 and 1999 as part of the BRAC-ICDDR,B Joint Research Project in Matlab, Bangladesh, this paper explores patterns of health-seeking behaviour over time, with the hypothesis that exposure to integrated socioeconomic development activities will enhance gender equity in care-seeking and the use of qualified medical care. While there is tentative evidence of greater gender equity in treatment choice among households benefiting from development interventions, a preference for qualified medical care is not apparent. Findings reveal a striking and generalized rise in self-treatment over the 4-year period that is attributed to the economic repercussions of a major flood in 1998, and greater heath awareness due to the density of community health workers in Matlab. Also noteworthy is the substantial reliance on informal and often unqualified practitioners (over 20%) such as pharmacists and itinerant drug sellers. Factors associated with the type of health care sought were identified using logistic regression. Self-care is associated with female gender, the absence of low cost health services and illnesses of relatively short duration. Medical care, on the other hand, is positively predicted by male gender, geographic location, greater socioeconomic status and serious illness of long duration. The paper concludes by emphasizing the importance of enhancing local capacities to determine whether self-treatment is indicated, to self-treat appropriately, or in cases where health care is sought, to judge provider competence and evaluate whether treatment costs are justified. The provision of pharmaceutical training to the full spectrum of health care providers is also recommended.
 
Article
Most government health facilities in Cambodia perform poorly, due to lack of funds, inadequate management and inefficient use of resources, but mostly due to poor motivation of staff. This paper describes contracting as a possible tool for Ministries of Health to improve health service delivery more rapidly than the more traditional reform approaches. In Cambodia, the Ministry of Health started an experiment with contracting in eight districts, covering 1 million people. Health care management in five districts was sub-contracted to private sector operators, and their results were compared with three control districts. Both internal and external reviews showed that after 3 years of implementation, the utilization of health services in the contracted districts improved significantly, in comparison with the control districts. There was adequate competition in awarding the contracts. A Ministry of Health Project Co-ordinating Unit measured the performance of the contractors, and contributed pro-actively. There was no evidence of rent-seeking practices by either the contracting agency or the contractors. This paper describes in more detail the successes and failures in one of the contracted districts, where HealthNet International applied the contracting approach. Despite significantly increased official user fees, constituting 16% of recurrent costs, the utilization of services was equally increased. Patients thought the fees were reasonable because they were still lower than the fees demanded if government health workers charged informally. They also thought that the services were of better quality than in the unregulated private sector. Another important result was that combining strict monitoring with performance-based incentives demonstrates a decrease in total family health expenditure of some 40% from US dollars 18 to US dollars 11 per capita per year. Innovative and decisive management proved to be essential, which is more likely to be achieved by a contracted manager than by regular government managers with life-long employment. This paper discusses how the contractor addressed the deeply rooted problems of informal private activities of government health workers. The NGO district management experimented with two management systems: first by individual contracts with health workers, and secondly by sub-contracting directly with the health centre chiefs and hospital directors. A reason for concern is that poli-pharmacy and excessive use of injectables continued. Also, the participation of the central level of the Ministry of Health was positive in the contracting process, but the role and participation of the provincial level of the Ministry was more tentative.
 
Article
Discharge information was obtained from pediatric ward logbooks of the Centre Hospitalier Régional de Bouaké from 1982 to 1992. While number of children admitted per month and discharge diagnosis remained relatively stable throughout the period, the proportion of children who left the hospital against medical advice increased by nearly 5 times during the 11-year period to over 12% of all pediatric admissions. The proportion of discharges against medical advice decreased to 10% of all pediatric admissions after institution of a programme to provide essential drugs at cost to patients (previously only available from private pharmacies). Most children who were taken from the hospital left within the first two days of hospitalization. The admission diagnoses of these children suggest that most had serious, life-threatening illness and that they left the hospital prior to having received adequate treatment. The increase in pediatric ward discharge against medical advice occurred simultaneously with serious budgetary shortfalls in the hospital resulting in inadequacy of medicines and basic equipment. Hospital staff suspected that most of the discharges against medical advice were caused by families being unable to afford the purchase of medicines and supplies necessary for inpatient treatment. It is suggested that widespread policies of decreasing funding for basic curative services in public hospitals may be associated with a substantial increase in preventable child mortality.
 
Article
Evaluating the effectiveness and efficiency of health services is important for all countries, especially those with limited resources. This study aimed to evaluate the volume and quality of health services research (HSR) conducted in one developing region, the English-speaking Caribbean. Data were abstracted from all 770 abstracts describing presentations at the annual scientific meetings of the Commonwealth Caribbean Medical Research Council for the decade 1984 to 1993. Of these, 341 abstracts were judged to report health services research and were from the English-speaking Caribbean. Hospital services were evaluated in 240 (70%) reports while primary health services were evaluated in only 90 (26%). Most hospital-based studies evaluated the use and outcome of medical and surgical services through the collection of case series and cohorts of cases, with a median sample size of 104 (interquartile range 38 to 320). Evaluations at primary level were more likely to evaluate need or demand for services, were more likely to report cross sectional surveys or randomized trials and included larger numbers of subjects (median 343, interquartile range 121 to 661). Patient-based measures of health status and measures of resource use were not often reported at either primary or secondary level. Estimation and hypothesis testing were infrequently employed in data analysis. A large proportion of the research presented could be classified as HSR but measures are needed to increase the motivation for research into primary care and to improve skills in HSR study design, conduct and analysis among those presently conducting research.
 
Comparison of average access to health care between 1989 and 1997 
Transition matrix 2: over-the-years quartiles 
Access to clinic care between 1989 and 1997 in China 
Article
The post-1979 period in China has seen the implementation of reforms that dismantled much of the Maoist era social welfare system and permitted a significant reallocation of society's resources. The result has been rapid but uneven economic development that has profoundly altered the environment within which consumers make health investment decisions. Many studies report significant and apparently non-random reductions in health care utilization during this period. Scholars have tended to focus on the loss of insurance coverage and the growth of fees for services in explaining such reductions. An alternative explanation is growing inequality in access to care. This possibility has not received much research attention. As a result, our understanding of the patterns of changes in health care access, and of the types of populations that have been most adversely affected, has been rather limited. This research examines the distribution of the changes in several indicators of access to health care across communities during the period 1989 to 1997. We find evidence of relatively uneven changes to these indicators. Money charges for routine services increased consistently, though this trend was less pronounced in lower-income communities. Most communities experienced reductions in travel distance to clinics but increases in distance to hospitals. There were major improvements to the quality of care in wealthier rural areas, but not in poorer villages. Wealthier villages experienced less improvement in waiting time and drug availability. These trends appear to be closely associated with changing economic circumstances during the reform era.
 
Article
Background Trade liberalization is promoted by the World Trade Organization (WTO) through a complex architecture of binding trade agreements. This type of trade, however, has the potential to modify the upstream and proximate determinants of tuberculosis (TB) infection. We aimed to analyse the association between trade liberalization and TB incidence in 22 high-burden TB countries between 1990 and 2010. Methods and findings A longitudinal multi-level linear regression analysis was performed using five different measures of trade liberalization as exposure [WTO membership, duration of membership, trade as % of gross domestic product, and components of both the Economic Freedom of the World Index (EFI4) and the KOF Index of Globalization (KOF1)]. We adjusted for a wide range of factors, including differences in human development index (HDI), income inequality, debts, polity patterns, conflict, overcrowding, population stage transition, health system financing, case detection rates and HIV prevalence. None of the five trade indicators was significantly associated with TB incidence in the crude analysis. Any positive effect of EFI4 on (Log-) TB incidence over time was confounded by differences in socio-economic development (HDI), HIV prevalence and health financing indicators. The adjusted TB incidence rate ratio of WTO member countries was significantly higher [RR: 1.60; 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.12–2.29] when compared with non-member countries. Conclusion We found no association between specific aggregate indicators of trade liberalization and TB incidence. Our analyses provide evidence of a significant association between WTO membership and higher TB incidence, which suggests a possible conflict between the architecture of WTO agreements and TB-related Millennium Development Goals. Further research is needed, particularly on the relation between the aggregate trade indices used in this study and the hypothesized mediators and also on sector-specific indices, specific trade agreements and other (non-TB) health outcomes.
 
Article
This study uses the hierarchical linear modelling (HLM) growth curve technique to explore predictors of the change in the prevalence and frequency of cigarette smoking in China between 1991 and 2004. Using nationally representative data, the study introduces a number of previously unanalysed variables at both the individual and the community level. The findings show that a number of factors are associated with the change in both the prevalence and frequency of smoking in China. In addition, there is a trend of decreasing prevalence of smoking in China after the effects of other covariates are adjusted. Finally, the free market cigarette price has an inconsistent relationship with the change in the prevalence and frequency of smoking, which further reveals the daunting task of tobacco control for public health scholars and policymakers in China.
 
Article
The 1993 World Development Report, Investing in Health, suggests policies to assist governments of developing countries in improving the health of their populations. A new methodology to improve government spending is introduced. Epidemiological and economic analyses from the basis for a global priority setting exercise, leading to a recommended essential public health and clinical services package for low- and middle-income countries. Ministries of Health in many countries have expressed an interest in designing a national package of essential health services, using the methodology. Given the apparent importance attached to the study and its far reaching potential consequences, this article provides an overview of the method, the main issues and problems in estimating the burden of disease as well as the cost-effectiveness of interventions. Strengths and weaknesses in the databases, value judgements and assumptions are identified, leading to a critical analysis of the validity of the priority setting exercise on the global level.
 
Article
Since its publication in 1993, the World Bank's World Development Report, Investing in Health, has been subjected to much criticism, particularly over the way it proposes to measure the health losses summarized in the concept of the 'burden of disease', and to establish priorities for health interventions according to the reduction in mortality and disability they could produce and what they would cost. Some of these criticisms are justified, and are recognized by the WDR; others arise from misunderstanding or misapplication of the concepts. Sifting these criticisms to arrive at a better understanding requires looking at what kind of analysis is involved, how the subjective elements of the exercise were determined, and how they can be used to choose which interventions deserve priority when a country cannot meet all its citizens' health needs.
 
Classification of all articles by health policy area 
LMIC health policy analyses by type of publication, 1994-2007 
LMIC health policy analysis articles 1994-2007, data sources and study design 
Article
This article provides the first ever review of literature analysing the health policy processes of low and middle income countries (LMICs). Based on a systematic search of published literature using two leading international databases, the article maps the terrain of work published between 1994 and 2007, in terms of policy topics, lines of inquiry and geographical base, as well as critically evaluating its strengths and weaknesses. The overall objective of the review is to provide a platform for the further development of this field of work. From an initial set of several thousand articles, only 391 were identified as relevant to the focus of inquiry. Of these, 164 were selected for detailed review because they present empirical analyses of health policy change processes within LMIC settings. Examination of these articles clearly shows that LMIC health policy analysis is still in its infancy. There are only small numbers of such analyses, whilst the diversity of policy areas, topics and analytical issues that have been addressed across a large number of country settings results in a limited depth of coverage within this body of work. In addition, the majority of articles are largely descriptive in nature, limiting understanding of policy change processes within or across countries. Nonetheless, the broad features of experience that can be identified from these articles clearly confirm the importance of integrating concern for politics, process and power into the study of health policy. By generating understanding of the factors influencing the experience and results of policy change, such analysis can inform action to strengthen future policy development and implementation. This article, finally, outlines five key actions needed to strengthen the field of health policy analysis within LMICs, including capacity development and efforts to generate systematic and coherent bodies of work underpinned by both the intent to undertake rigorous analytical work and concern to support policy change.
 
Hazard ratio (HR) for early neonatal mortality for community, socio-economic and some proximate determinants: the results of multivariable analysis, IDHS 1994-2007
Trends in the use of delivery attendants and place of delivery in Indonesia, IDHS 1994–2007. Notes: All values are weighted for the sampling probability. Other public birthing centres include health centres, sub-health centres, village maternity posts, village health posts. Other private birthing centres include private clinics and the private practices of family physicians, nurses or village midwives.  
Article
Access to skilled birth attendants and emergency obstetric care are thought to prevent early neonatal deaths. This study aims to examine the association between the type of delivery attendant and place of delivery and early neonatal mortality in Indonesia. Four Indonesia Demographic and Health Surveys from 1994, 1997, 2002/2003 and 2007 were used, including survival information from 52 917 singleton live-born infants of the most recent birth of a mother within a 5-year period before each survey. Cox proportional hazards regression models were used to obtain the hazard ratio for univariable and multivariable analyses. Our study found no significant reduction in the risk of early neonatal death for home deliveries assisted by the trained attendants compared with those assisted by untrained attendants. In rural areas, the risk of early neonatal death was higher for home deliveries assisted by trained attendants than home deliveries assisted by untrained attendants. In urban areas, a protective role of institutional deliveries was found if mothers had delivery complications. However, an increased risk was associated with deliveries in public hospitals in rural areas. Infants of mothers attending antenatal care services were significantly protected against early neonatal deaths, irrespective of the urban or rural setting. An increased risk of early neonatal death was also associated with male infants, infants whose size at birth was smaller than average and/or infants reported to be born early. A reduced risk was observed amongst mothers with high levels of education. Continuous improvement in the skills and the quality of the village midwives might benefit maternal and newborn survival. Efforts to strengthen the referral system and to improve the quality of delivery and newborn care services in health facilities are important, particularly in public hospitals and in rural areas.
 
Article
This article identifies the effects of the 1997-98 East Asian economic crisis on health care use and health status in Indonesia. The article places the findings in the context of a framework showing the complex cause and effect relationships underlying the effects of economic downturns on health and health care. The results are based on primary analysis of Indonesian household survey data and review of a wide range of sources from the Indonesian government and international organizations. Comparisons are drawn with the effects of the crisis in Thailand. The devaluation of the Indonesian currency, the Rupiah, led to inflation and reduced real public expenditures on health. Households' expenditures on health also decreased, both in absolute terms and as a percentage of overall spending. Self-reported morbidity increased sharply from 1997 to 1998 in both rural and urban areas of Indonesia. The crisis led to a substantial reduction in health service utilization during the same time period, as the proportion of household survey respondents reporting an illness or injury that sought care from a modern health care provider declined by 25%. In contrast to Indonesia, health care utilization in Thailand actually increased during the crisis, corresponding to expansion in health insurance coverage. The results suggest that social protection programmes play a critical role in protecting populations against the adverse effects of economic downturns on health and health care.
 
Article
Interest in community health insurance has grown rapidly in many developing countries, usually as a result of the weak capacity of governments to raise sufficient tax revenues and then to secure an adequate share for health care. There are many pitfalls, however, and only under specific conditions do community health insurance schemes appear to succeed in effectively improving access to care and enhancing financial protection against health care costs. In this paper, we focus on the initial experience with community health insurance in 19th century Japan, called 'Jyorei'. Whereas Jyorei began in 1835 in one village in Fukuoka Prefecture, it gradually expanded and the basic ideas came under government stewardship. It was scaled up as the core model of the National Citizen's Health Insurance Fund, one of the pillars of the Japanese social health insurance system. Several Jyorei success points are relevant today for developing countries wishing to support community health insurance. One of the key characteristics was social cohesion and the acceptance of equity goals with transfers between the rich and the poor.
 
Article
The Asian Forum for Health Research convened in Manila, the Philippines, in February 2000 to determine how best to create a new paradigm for health research in Asia. The forum was organized as an 'open university of research for equity in health development' to define the new paradigm and to identify methods for building a dynamic and collaborative architecture to more effectively link the nations and region of Asia with global stakeholders in health research. It was also to: determine Asian actions required to enhance leadership functions for innovative health research management; develop and disseminate tools and methodologies needed to accomplish essential tasks; establish collaborative networks within developing countries/regions to ensure efforts are not duplicated and international inputs are not monopolized; and use new information and communication technologies to integrate the process and contents of health research with equity in health development. Results of the forum's review of issues were presented and discussed at the International Conference on Health Research for Development, held in October 2000 in Bangkok, Thailand.
 
Descriptive statistics for all diagnoses patient level variables by hospital's ownership type 
Death rate and PCI per year, by type of ownership 
Article
Public, private not-for-profit (PNFP) and private for-profit (PFP) hospitals may have different behaviour and performance in different indicators such as health outcomes, cost-efficiency and quality. Chile has a mixed healthcare system both in financing and service delivery. The public National Health Fund (Fondo Nacional de Salud) covers 76% of the population-poorer and with higher health risks-whereas private health insurers cover 16% of the population-richer and with lower health risks. The aim of the study was to analyse the in-patient mortality outcomes by hospital ownership in Chile. We use hospital discharge data in Chile for the period 2001-10 with a total of 16 205 314 discharges in 20 public, 6 PNFP and 15 PFP hospitals. We analyse in-patient mortality considering all diagnoses and a subsample considering only myocardial infarction and stroke diagnoses. Using a probit regression, we estimate how hospital ownership explains in-patient mortality controlling for other confounding variables like health and socioeconomic status, and hospital characteristics. The discharge condition was reported as death in 3.5% of the public hospitals' discharges, 1.3% in PNFP and 0.7% in PFP. PNFP and PFP hospitals show a lower risk of in-hospital mortality for all diagnoses, myocardial infarction and stroke in comparison with public hospitals. The question about which type of hospital ownership performs better in Chile remains open. Policy decisions regarding health service provision requires more evidence explaining differences by ownership. Better controls for health risk and hospital characteristics are suggested to address these differences in hospital performance. Published by Oxford University Press in association with The London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine © The Author 2015; all rights reserved.
 
IDSR core indicators and their targets 
Key IDSR performance indicators at national level, Uganda, 2001-07 
Article
Background In 2000 Uganda adopted the Integrated Disease Surveillance and Response (IDSR) strategy, which aims to create a co-ordinated approach to the collection, analysis, interpretation, use and dissemination of surveillance data for guiding decision making on public health actions. Methods We used a monitoring framework recommended by World Health Organization (WHO) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)-Atlanta to evaluate performance of the IDSR core indicators at the national level from 2001 to 2007. To determine the performance of IDSR at district and health facility levels over a 5-year period, we compared the evaluation results of a 2004 surveillance survey with findings from a baseline assessment in 2000. We also examined national-level funding for IDSR implementation during 2000–07. Results Our findings show improvements in the performance of IDSR, including: (1) improved reporting at the district level (49% in 2001; 85% in 2007); (2) an increase and then decrease in timeliness of reporting from districts to central level; and (3) an increase in analysed data at the local level (from 10% to 47% analysing at least one target disease, P < 0.01). The case fatality rate (CFR) for two target priority diseases (cholera and meningococcal meningitis) decreased during IDSR implementation (cholera: from 7% to 2%; meningitis: from 16% to 4%), most likely due to improved outbreak response. A comparison before and after implementation showed increased funding for IDSR from government and development partners. However, funding support decreased ten-fold from the government budget of 2000/01 through to 2007/08. Per capita input for disease surveillance activities increased from US$0.0046 in 1996–99 to US$0.0215 in 2000–07. Conclusion Implementation of IDSR was associated with improved surveillance and response efforts. However, decreased budgetary support from the government may be eroding these gains. Renewed efforts from government and other stakeholders are necessary to sustain and expand progress achieved through implementation of IDSR.
 
Article
Within the countries of the former Soviet Union, the Kyrgyz Republic has been a pioneer in reforming the system of health care finance. Since the introduction of its compulsory health insurance fund in 1997, the country has gradually moved from subsidizing the supply of services to subsidizing the purchase of services through the 'single payer' of the health insurance fund. In 2002 the government introduced a new co-payment for inpatients along with a basic benefit package. A key objective of the reforms has been to replace the burgeoning system of unofficial informal payments for health care with a transparent official co-payment, thereby reducing the financial burden of health care spending for the poor. This article investigates trends in out-of-pocket payments for health care using the results of a series of nationally representative household surveys conducted over the period 2001-2007, when the reforms were being rolled out. The analysis shows that there has been a significant improvement in financial access to health care amongst the population. The proportion paying state providers for consultations fell between 2004 and 2007. As a result of the introduction of co-payments for hospital care, fewer inpatients report making payments to medical personnel, but when they are made, payments are high, especially to surgeons and anaesthetists. However, although financial access for outpatient care has improved, the burden of health care payments amongst the poor remains significant.
 
Average per capita expenditures on health and non-health items (in Albanian Leks) 
Incidence and intensity of catastrophic health payments defined with respect to total expenditure 
Article
The absence of or poorly functioning risk pooling mechanisms and high amounts of out-of-pocket payments for health care expose households to financial risks associated with major illnesses or accidents. The aim of this article is to analyse the extent to which out-of-pocket health spending impoverishes households in Albania. The study augments existing evidence by analysing the dynamics of such payments over different years and the weight that informal payments have in the total out-of-pocket health spending. The data used in the study come from the Albania Living Standards Measurement Survey (ALSMS) for 2002, 2005 and 2008. We measure headcount catastrophic payments using different thresholds and the decomposition of indicators by expenditure quintiles to better understand their effects. We find that out-of-pocket and informal payments have increased in real value throughout the years. Even though their catastrophic effect has gone down (due also to declining trends in absolute poverty), the effect for the poorest expenditure quintiles remains high. Out-of-pocket payments deepen the poverty headcount and also enlarge the poverty gap and again the effect is larger for the poorest quintiles. Future policy interventions should provide better protection mechanisms for the poor by providing exemption criteria or subsidized transport. They should also seek to address the widespread informal payments in the country.
 
Facilities surveyed
New outpatient visits per 1000 per year in 2004, by study group
Results: comparison with non-contracted public sector facilities (Reference: non-contracted facilities)
Results: comparison with contracting-out approach 1 group (CO-1)
Article
Afghanistan has used several approaches to contracting as part of its national strategy to increase access to basic health services. This study compares changes in the utilization of outpatient curative services from 2004 to 2005 between the different approaches for contracting-out services to non-governmental service providers, contracting-in technical assistance at public sector facilities, and public sector facilities that did not use contracting. We find that both contracting-in and contracting-out approaches are associated with substantial double difference increases in service use from 2004 to 2005 compared with non-contracted facilities. The double difference increase in contracting-out facilities for outpatient visits is 29% (P < 0.01), while outpatient visits from female patients increased 41% (P < 0.01), use by the poorest quintile increased 68% (P < 0.01) and use by children aged under 5 years increased 27% (P < 0.05). Comparing the individual contracting-out approaches, we find similar increases in outpatient visits when contracts are managed directly by the Ministry of Public Health compared with when contracts are managed by an experienced international non-profit organization. Finally, contracting-in facilities show even larger increases in all the measures of utilization other than visits from children under 5. Although there are minor differences in the results between contracting-out approaches, these differences cannot be attributed to a specific contracting-out approach because of factors limiting the comparability of the groups. It is nonetheless clear that the government was able to manage contracts effectively despite early concerns about their lack of experience, and that contracting has helped to improve utilization of basic health services.
 
Article
Improved understanding of how to advance national nutrition policy is critical to ensure greater policy investments in nutrition. We used a participant-observer, change-agent model to prospectively study why and how national nutrition policy advanced in Vietnam between 2006 and 2008. Our goal was to understand strategies used, factors that shaped policy advancement, and the interaction of strategies with factors in this context. Data were collected using questionnaires, informant interviews, programme visits, document reviews and documentation of key events. For analysis, we created a chronology of events, examined strategies and actions used and their results by event, coded interviews and summarized findings using a well-known framework for policy analysis. Our analysis shows that the following elements were critical to bring greater attention to nutrition policy in this context: (1) building a cohesive nutrition policy community through creation and support of an alliance; (2) clearly defining internal and external frames for the nutrition problem; (3) using and creating high-profile internal and external policy windows; and (4) capitalizing on cultural motivations and values. Findings indicate that that rapid nutrition policy advancement is possible if purposeful, contextually sensitive strategies are used where favourable conditions exist, or can be created. The participant-observer, change-agent model was successful in both contributing to policy advancement and documenting it.
 
cMYP and reported JRF government expenditures on routine immunization (US$) per surviving infant for cMYP baseline years, by GAVI eligibility category, after Saxenian et al. (2011). Values rounded to the nearest US$.  
Descriptive statistics for model variables
Projected government routine immunization expenditures per surviving infant under varying immunization investment functions, reporting GAVI eligible countries in 2012 (N ¼ 41).  
Article
Financing is becoming increasingly important as the cost of immunizing the world's children continues to rise. By 2015, that cost will likely exceed US$60 per infant as new vaccines are introduced into national immunization programs. In 2006, 51 lower and lower middle income countries reported spending a mean US$12 per surviving infant on routine immunization. By 2012, the figure had risen to $20, a 67% increase. This study tests the hypothesis that lower and lower middle income countries will spend more on their routine immunization programs as their economies grow. A panel data regression approach is used. Expenditures reported by governments annually (2006-12) through the World Health Organization/UNICEF Joint Reporting Form are regressed on lagged annual per capita gross national income (GNI), controlling for prevailing mortality levels, immunization program performance, corruption control efforts, geographical region and correct reporting. Results show the expenditures increased with GNI. Expressed as an elasticity, the countries spent approximately $6.32 on immunization for every $100 in GNI increase from 2006 to 2012. Projecting forward and assuming continued annual GNI growth rates of 10.65%, countries could be spending $60 per infant by 2020 if national investment functions increase 4-fold. Given the political will, this result implies countries could fully finance their routine immunization programs without cutting funding for other programs.
 
Article
Introduction: Human resource (HR) management is a priority for health systems strengthening in developing countries, yet few studies have empirically examined associations with service quality. The purpose of this study was to assess the relationship between HR management and family planning (FP) service quality. Methods: Data came from the 2010 Kenya Service Provision Assessment, a nationally representative health facility assessment. In total, 912 FP consultations from 301 facilities were analysed. Four indices were created to measure quality on reproductive history taking, physical examination, sexually transmitted infections prevention and pill/injectable specific counselling. HR management variables included training in the past year, any and supportive (i.e. with feedback, technical updates and discussion) in-person supervision in the past 6 months and having a written job description. Multivariate linear regression analyses were conducted to estimate coefficients of HR management variables on each of the four quality indices, adjusting for background characteristics of clients, provider and facilities. Results: The level of service quality ranged from 16 to 53 out of a maximum score of 100 across the indices. Fifty-two per cent of consultations were done by providers who received supportive in-person supervision in the previous 6 months. In 23% and 38% of consultations, the provider was trained in the past year and had a written job description, respectively. Multivariate analyses indicated that having a written job description was associated with higher service quality in history taking, physical examination and the pill/injectable specific counselling. Other HR management variables were not significantly associated with service quality. Conclusion: Having a written job description was significantly associated with higher service quality and may be a useful tool for strengthening management practices. The details of such job descriptions and the quality of other management indicators should be explored to better understand the relationship between HR management and FP service quality.
 
Summary of methods and sample sizes
The frequency of hand-washing at critical times
Article
Formative research for hygiene promotion was used to gather data relating to hygiene practices in rural Kyrgyzstan. Some of the hand-washing and faeces disposal practices observed were sub-optimal from a public health perspective. In combination with the poverty, limited medical services and poor water supply infrastructure characteristic of the study area, it is likely that these factors increase the risk of diarrhoeal infections among Kyrgyz children. An association was found between increased rates of hand-washing following latrine use and ownership of a washstand. This offers some empirical support for the idea that promotion of hand-washing technologies can form a useful part of a hygiene promotion intervention. The process followed in conducting the formative research is outlined in some detail along with a discussion of some of its achievements and limitations.
 
Article
While much has been written on the determinants of prenatal care attendance in low-income countries, comparatively little is known about the determinants of the frequency of prenatal visits in general and whether there are separate processes generating the decisions to use prenatal care and the frequency of use. Using the Demographic and Health Surveys data for 32 low-income countries (across Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America) and appropriate two-part and multilevel models, this article empirically assesses the influence of a wide array of observed individual-, household- and community-level characteristics on a woman's decision to use prenatal care and the frequency of that use, while controlling for unobserved community level factors. The results suggest that, though both the decision to use care and the number of prenatal visits are influenced by a range of observed individual-, household- and community-level characteristics, the influence of these determinants vary in magnitude for prenatal care attendance and the frequency of prenatal visits. Despite remarkable consistency among regions in the association of individual, household and community indicators with prenatal care utilization, the estimated coefficients of the risk factors vary greatly across the three world regions. The strong influence of household wealth, education and regional poverty on the use of prenatal care suggests that safe motherhood programmes should be linked with the objectives of social development programmes such as poverty reduction, enhancing the status of women and increasing primary and secondary school enrolment rate among girls. Finally, the finding that teenage mothers and unmarried women and those with unintended pregnancies are less likely to use prenatal care and have fewer visits suggests that safe mother programmes need to pay particular attention to the disadvantaged and vulnerable subgroups of population whose reproductive health issues are often fraught with controversy.
 
Article
This paper uses individual and household level data to explore empirically the associations between household wealth and the incidence and treatment of fever, as an indicator of malaria, among children in sub-Saharan Africa. The data used are from Demographic and Health Surveys collected in the 1990s from 22 countries where malaria is prevalent. The results suggest that the incidence of fever and its treatment are related to poverty in sub-Saharan Africa. Incidence is typically lower at the very top of the wealth distribution. The relationship, however, is not strong, especially after controlling for potentially confounding factors. Treatment patterns are strongly related to poverty as wealthier households are more likely to seek care or advice. While it is perhaps unsurprising that treatment from private sources increases with household wealth, government services--despite their public nature--are typically also used more by wealthier households. While general results hold for many of the countries, there is sufficient variation across countries that any policy seeking to reform the health sector in order to better cater to the poor needs to be informed by country-specific work.
 
Article
To compare levels of childhood malnutrition in areas where the Bangladesh Integrated Nutrition Project had been operational for over 5 years with matched non-project areas, with the purpose of evaluating whether the project had achieved its objective of reducing the prevalence of underweight among children <24 months. The study involved an ex-post cross-sectional survey in six thanas (a locality with a population of approximately 200,000-450,000 people) in Bangladesh. Participants were 6,820 households (4,554 in the project areas and 2,266 in the non-project areas) including 7183 children aged 6-59 months selected using a two-stage stratified cluster sampling frame. Main outcome measures were moderate and severe underweight, wasting and stunting reported using z scores, and indicators of mothers' reported nutritional knowledge and practice. 2,388 children aged 6-23 months and 6815 children aged 6-59 months had clean anthropometric data. No significant difference was found between the socio-economic variables of households in the project and non-project areas. No significant difference was found in the prevalence of either severe or moderate underweight (weight-for-age) in children aged 6-23 months in the project and non-project areas: 183 (11.4%, 95% confidence interval 9.9-13.2%) children in project areas and 96 (12.2%, 95% confidence interval 9.9-14.8%) children in non-project areas. Mothers in project areas reported significantly better caring practices than in non-project areas. There is no evidence that the Bangladesh Integrated Nutrition Project has achieved its objectives to reduce severe underweight by 40% if project areas are compared ex-post with non-project areas. There is urgent need to review the evidence behind investments based on growth monitoring and promotion.
 
Household economic variables, FI and self-reporting questionnaire (SRQF) scores by round of data collection and dependent status. 
Article
Low-income volunteers constitute a major part of AIDS care workforces in sub-Saharan Africa, yet little research has been conducted to determine how poverty and insecurity among volunteers impact their wellbeing and the sustainability of the AIDS treatment programmes they support. This paper presents longitudinal ethnographic and epidemiological research documenting how the 2008 food crisis in Addis Ababa affected AIDS care volunteers' care relationships and motivations. Ethnographic results highlight the distress and demotivation that rising food costs created for caregivers by contributing to their own and their care recipients' experiences of food insecurity and HIV-related stigmatization. Epidemiological results underscore a high prevalence of food insecurity (approximately 80%) even prior to the peak of food prices. Rising food prices over the 3 years prior to 2008, underemployment and household per capita incomes averaging less than US$1/day, likely contributed to the very high prevalence of food insecurity reported by caregivers in our sample. We also show that new volunteers recruited in early 2008 by one of the non-governmental organizations (NGOs) involved in this study were more likely to be dependants within their households, and that these participants reported lower rates of food insecurity and higher household income. While this shift in volunteer recruitment may help sustain volunteer care programmes in the face of widespread poverty and underemployment, food insecurity was still highly prevalent (58-71%) among this sub-group. Given the inability of the local NGOs that organize volunteers to address the challenge of food insecurity for programme sustainability, our results raise important policy questions regarding compensation for volunteers' valuable labour and poverty reduction through public health sector job creation.
 
Health services use in terminal illness by cause of death, Addis Ababa (2003), in percentages 
Regression models of the utilization of modern medical facilities (MF) in terminal illness, Addis Ababa (2003) 
Regression models of the utilization of alternative health services in terminal illness, Addis Ababa (2003) 
Article
OBJECTIVES We describe modern and alternative health services use in terminal illness of adults, and assess whether utilization patterns of TB/AIDS patients are distinct from those of patients suffering from other illnesses. METHODS Data are from post-mortem interviews with close relatives or caretakers of the deceased. We provide descriptive statistics of health care utilization in adults and discuss their covariates in multivariate analyses. RESULTS Over 85% of terminally sick patients visited a modern medical facility, but less than 40% spent more than 24 hours in a medical facility and only 25% died in one. Traditional healer (11%) and holy water (46%) visits offer a common treatment and healing alternative, but these visits do not co-vary in any consistent manner with the utilization of modern medical services. In terms of the cause of death, we find a higher contact rate with both modern and alternative medical service providers among TB/AIDS patients compared with those suffering from other medical conditions. The duration of illness seems to account for a good share of that variability. Other covariates of health services utilization are socio-economic status, education and age. CONCLUSIONS The contact rate of adults with modern medical facilities in terminal illness is almost universal, but their usage intensity is rather low. Alternative curative options are less commonly used, and do not exclude modern health services use. This suggests that both types of services are considered complements rather than alternatives for each other. Because the contact rate with health service providers is greatest for TB/AIDS patients, it is unlikely that HIV/AIDS-related stigma is an impediment to seeking care. We cannot exclude, however, that it delays health-seeking behaviour.
 
The costs of the EPI programme and the estimated additional cost of HBV immunization in Addis Ababa health region a Cost of EPI programme Additional cost of HBV programme 
The estimated additional annual cost of HBV vaccine, the total additional annual cost of the HBV vaccination programme (which includes labour etc.) and the average cost per HBV dose given using various assumptions about the unit price per dose of HBV vaccine (all costs in US$) a 
Article
National programmes of hepatitis B virus (HBV) vaccination are recommended by the World Health Organization for all countries. Countries suffering the highest burden of HBV disease are those most needy of universal vaccination, but are frequently of very low income and resources for health care are scarce. The introduction of HBV vaccination would inevitably stretch these resources further even with support of donor agencies. Thus an assessment of the cost-effectiveness of HBV vaccination is desirable to assist in decision making about resource allocation. We describe here a method for estimating the additional costs of introducing HBV vaccination into the Expanded Programme on Immunization (EPI) at a national level. Of fundamental importance is that this method enables costs to be assessed prior to the introduction of vaccination. We illustrate the method using a study carried out at the sub-national level, in the city of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, but which can be expanded countrywide. The method, in brief, involved the use of a number of questionnaires which could be used to estimate the costs associated with the EPI programme from a large sample of the static clinics as well as from central sources. Since unit costs were collected along with the quantities of resources used and estimates of the capacity used for certain facilities (such as refrigerators), the additional cost of introducing HBV vaccine could be estimated largely by extrapolation of the resources used in vaccinating against diphtheria/pertussis/tetanus vaccine (which, similar to HBV vaccine, requires three doses). The estimation of costs is only part of the information required to make decisions on resource allocation, and should be used in association with measures of the burden of disease due to the infection in the community and effectiveness of the control programme at reducing this burden. The prediction of the latter, based upon a sound epidemiological understanding of the infection, is the subject of a forthcoming paper.
 
Article
Malaria is the most common cause of morbidity and mortality in children under 5 in Mali. Health centres provide primary care, including malaria treatment, under a system of cost recovery. In 2005, Médecins sans Frontieres (MSF) started supporting health centres in Kangaba with the provision of rapid malaria diagnostic tests and artemisinin-based combination therapy. Initially MSF subsidized malaria tests and drugs to reduce the overall cost for patients. In a second phase, MSF abolished fees for all children under 5 irrespective of their illness and for pregnant women with fever. This second phase was associated with a trebling of both primary health care utilization and malaria treatment coverage for these groups. MSF's experience in Mali suggests that removing user fees for vulnerable groups significantly improves utilization and coverage of essential health services, including for malaria interventions. This effect is far more marked than simply subsidizing or providing malaria drugs and diagnostic tests free of charge. Following the free care strategy, utilization of services increased significantly and under-5 mortality was reduced. Fee removal also allowed for more efficient use of existing resources, reducing average cost per patient treated. These results are particularly relevant for the context of Mali and other countries with ambitious malaria treatment coverage objectives, in accordance with the United Nations Millennium Development Goals. This article questions the effectiveness of the current national policy, and the effectiveness of reducing the cost of drugs only (i.e. partial subsidies) or providing malaria tests and drugs free for under-5s, without abolishing other related fees. National and international budgets, in particular those that target health systems strengthening, could be used to complement existing subsidies and be directed towards effective abolition of user fees. This would contribute to increasing the impact of interventions on population health and, in turn, the effectiveness of aid.
 
Continued 
Data collection and sample description of articles 
Article
In Africa, user fees constitute a financial barrier to access to health services. Increasingly, international aid agencies are supporting countries that abolish such fees. However, African decision-makers want to know if eliminating payment for services is effective and how it can be implemented. For this reason, given the increase in experiences and the repeated requests from decision-makers for current knowledge on this subject, we surveyed the literature. Using the scoping study method, 20 studies were selected and analysed. This survey shows that abolition of user fees had generally positive effects on the utilization of services, but at the same time, it highlights the importance of implementation processes and our considerable lack of knowledge on the matter at this time. We draw lessons from these experiences and suggest avenues for future research.
 
Article
To document the effects of the abolition of user fees on utilization of health services in Uganda with emphasis on poor and vulnerable groups. A longitudinal study using quantitative and qualitative methods was carried out in 106 health facilities across the country. Health records were reviewed to determine trends in overall utilization patterns and use among vulnerable groups. A modification of wealth ranking as defined by the Uganda Poverty Participatory Assessment Project was used to categorize households by socio-economic status in order to compare utilization by the poor against that of other socio-economic groups. There was a marked increase in utilization in all population groups that was fluctuating in nature. The increase in utilization varied from 26% in public referral facilities in 2001, rising to 55% in 2002 compared with 2000. The corresponding figures for the lower level facilities were 44% and 77%, respectively. Increase in utilization among the poor was more than for other socio-economic categories. Women utilized health services more than men both before and after cost-sharing. Higher increases in utilization were noted among the over-five age group compared with the under-fives. There were no increases in utilization for preventive and inpatient services. With respect to quality of care, there were fewer drug stock-outs in 2002 compared with 2000 and 2001. There was no deterioration of other indicators such as cleanliness, compound maintenance and staff availability reported. The study suggests that there is a financial barrier created by cost-sharing that decreases access to services, especially among the poor in Uganda. However, further studies are needed to clarify issues of utilization by age and gender.
 
Article
Inadequate health financing is one of the major challenges health systems in low-income countries currently face. Health financing reforms are being implemented with an increasing interest in policies that abolish user fees. Data from three nationally representative surveys conducted in Uganda in 1999/2000, 2002/03 and 2005/06 were used to investigate the impact of user fee abolition on the attainment of universal coverage objectives. An increase in illness reporting was noted over the three surveys, especially among the poorer quintiles. An increase in utilization was registered in the period immediately following the abolition of user fees and was most pronounced in the poorest quintile. Overall, there was an increase in utilization in both public and private health care delivery sectors, but only at clinic and health centre level, not at hospitals. Our study shows important changes in health-care-seeking behaviour. In 2002/03, the poorest population quintile started using government health centres more often than private clinics whereas in 1999/2000 private clinics were the main source of health care. The richest quintile has increasingly used private clinics. Overall, it appears that the private sector remains a significant source of health care. Following abolition of user fees, we note an increase in the use of lower levels of care with subsequent reductions in use of hospitals. Total annual average expenditures on health per household remained fairly stable between the 1999/2000 and 2002/03 surveys. There was, however, an increase of US$21 in expenditure between the 2002/03 and 2005/06 surveys. Abolition of user fees improved access to health services and efficiency in utilization. On the negative side is the fact that financial protection is yet to be achieved. Out-of-pocket expenditure remains high and mainly affects the poorer population quintiles. A dual system seems to have emerged where wealthier population groups are switching to the private sector.
 
Top-cited authors
Rifat Atun
  • Harvard University
David H Peters
  • Johns Hopkins University
Valéry Ridde
  • Université de Montréal
Wim Van Damme
  • Institute of Tropical Medicine
Bart Jacobs
  • Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit