In its annual World Health Report, the World Health Organization (WHO) shows how all countries, rich and poor, can adjust their health financing mechanisms so more people get the health care they need. It highlights three key areas where change can happen – raising more funds for health, raising money more fairly, and spending it more efficiently. WHO says that in many cases, governments can allocate more money for health. In 2000, African heads of State committed to spend 15% of government funds on health, a goal that three countries – Liberia, Rwanda and Tanzania – have already achieved. If the governments of the world’s 49 poorest countries each allocated 15% of state spending to health, they could raise an additional $15 billion per year – almost doubling the funds available, notes the report. Countries can also generate more money for health through more efficient tax collection, and find new sources of tax revenue, such as sales taxes and currency transactions. A review of 22 low-income countries shows that they could between them raise $1.42 billion through a 50% increase in tobacco tax. The report also cites the role of the international community, noting that most donors still need to allocate 0.7% gross domestic product (GDP) to official development assistance. Smarter spending could also boost global health coverage anywhere between 20-40%, the report points out, highlighting 10 areas where greater efficiencies are possible, including the use of generic drugs wherever possible – a strategy that saved almost US$2 billion in 2008.
Resource allocation and health financing
Will leaders act now to save lives and make health care free in poor countries? On 23 September 2009 leaders met at the United Nations General Assembly in New York for a high-level event on health. On the table was a proposal to support at least seven developing countries to fully implement free care for women and children or to expand free health services to all, including Malawi and Mozambique. Oxfam recommends that governments of these countries make high-level commitments to introduce free health care for women and children and/or fully implement and expand free health care for all, as well as increase government spending on health to at least 15% of the national budget. The authors argue that the same commitments are required from rich country donors and multilateral aid agencies to provide additional long-term and predictable funding necessary to successfully implement free health care in all seven countries, and to officially extend the offer of financial and technical support for free health care to all poor countries who wish to remove fees and to make this event a global turning point in the fight to make health care free for all.
Zambia scrapped health fees on Saturday, one of the first benefits to flow from debt relief granted to African countries last year by the G8 group of wealthy nations. Many poor people across Zambia often die because they cannot afford health care and are forced to resort to ineffectual traditional remedies. This narrative depicts the impact of this abolition of user fees in the eyes of a Zambian man.
This document, by the Zambian Ministry of Health and PHRplus, summarises how the National Health Accounts (NHA) system was used to assess both general health and HIV and AIDS-specific spending in Zambia in 2002. The document also reviews health care use and borrowing patterns for people living with HIV and AIDS (PLWHA). Findings show that the private sector, including households, finance 15.3 per cent of HIV and AIDS spending, whereas the public sector finances 7.2 per cent. Findings also reveal that PLWHA spend 12 times more on health care than those who are not infected. Traditional healers were also found to play a major role as providers of health care for people living with HIV and AIDS.
The Zimbabwe Parliamentary Portfolio committee on Health says it will not entertain a flimsy allocation of funds to the health sector in the forthcoming 2018 budget presentation unless the 15% Abuja target is met. Zimbabwe is a signatory to the Abuja Declaration of 2001 in which African Union countries pledged to allocate at least 15 percent of their annual budgets to improving the health sector. Since then, the country is yet to meet the target. In the 2017 budget, the health sector only got 7 percent of total government spending. Non state organisations expect the treasury to meet the Abuja declaration which states that 15 percent of the National budget should be dedicated to health to show commitment to ensuring a healthy and productive nation. Presenting the 2017 national budget, the then Finance and Economic Development Minister Patrick Chinamasa announced that $281,9 million will be channeled towards the sector inclusive of remuneration for the public health care personnel ($223 million), operations and maintenance ($29,6 million), as well as capital expenditure that has been pegged at $29,5 million. Binga North MP Prince Dubeko Sibanda sharing his experience in Uganda learnt that if a budget ignores the plight of the marginalized it doesn’t get Parliamentary approval to be passed. “One thing I took in Uganda, they have got a law which says unless the budget meets certain criteria or takes care of people that are generally marginalized that budget should not be passed. Its part and parcel of their law. Its never passed,” the parliamentarian said.
HIV has severely affected the overall health of people in the southern Africa region by impacting directly on individuals and their families, and by placing additional burdens on economies, social structures and health services. Poorer people are disproportionately affected because they have fewer resources to deal with the impact of HIV on their daily lives. Now that international advocacy has led to reductions in process of antiretroviral drugs (ARVs), there is concern that poorer people will not have access to these drugs. To examine these issues, a study was commissioned by the Regional Network for Equity in Health in Southern Africa (EQUINET) and Oxfam GB to highlight equity issues in HIV and AIDS, health sector responses and treatment access in four countries in southern Africa.
Zimbabwe government spending towards health this year averaged US$21 per person, lower than 2016 levels, the Community Working Group on Health (CWGH), in Zimbabwe, said in its contribution to the 2018 National Budget consultations. CWGH said the per capita allocation towards health is one of the lowest in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region whose average spending on health per person is $146. CWGH raised concerns about the total budget allocation to health, which has remained lower than the 15% of the total budget committed to in the Abuja Declaration. The CWGH said Zimbabwe has made significant gains in the area of HIV prevalence, child and maternal mortality, but noted an over-dependence on external funding, poor infrastructure and ill-equipped hospitals, as well as a worrying ratio of patients to health personnel. The CWGH observed that Zimbabwe relies heavily on imports for drugs, equipment and other hospital consumables, and called for government to broaden the tax base to fund health.
A rise of more than 100 percent in the price of antiretroviral drugs is likely to put the life-prolonging medication beyond the reach of hundreds of thousands of Zimbabweans living with HIV. Pharmacists in Zimbabwe's second city of Bulawayo increased the price of a monthly course of ARVs from an average of Z$30,000 (US$120 at the official exchange rate) to between Z$80,000 (US$320) and Z$100,000 (US$400), telling IRIN the price hike was an inevitable response to the country's economic woes, which has seen inflation surge to 1,281 percent, and foreign currency become a scarce item.
This briefing proposes that while prospects for developing countries are often shaped by domestic and regional politics and aid, it is necessary to looks at beyond aid at issues like trade, migration, investment, environmental issues, security and technology. The authors explore the progress made towards policy coherence and conceptualise a three-phase cycle: phase 1 includes setting and prioritising objectives, which requires political commitment and policy statements; phase 2 looks at policy coordination and the implementation mechanisms by establishing formal mechanisms at inter-ministerial level for coordination and policy arbitration; and phase 3 is about effective systems of monitoring, analysis and reporting. The paper concludes by recommending that the Beyond Aid agenda could help drive faster progress towards partnerships for community development and policies that are more ‘development-friendly’, in practice as well as on paper.
In October 2012 Uganda extended its prevention of mother to child HIV transmission (PMTCT) policy to Option B+, providing lifelong antiretroviral treatment for HIV positive pregnant and breastfeeding women. The rapid changes in and adoption of new PMTCT policies are argued by the authors to have not been accompanied by research to explore health system preparedness to implement such programmes. The implementation of Option B+ provides many lessons which can inform the shift to ‘Universal Test and Treat’, a policy which many sub-Saharan African countries are preparing to adopt, despite fragile health systems. This qualitative study of PMTCT Option B+ implementation in Uganda three years following the policy adoption, uses the health system dynamics framework to explore the impacts of this programme on ten elements of the health system. Qualitative data were gathered through rapid appraisal during in-country field work. Key informant interviews and focus group discussions (FGDs) were undertaken with the Ministry of Health, implementing partners, multilateral agencies, district management teams, facility-based health workers and community cadres. The authors conducted a simple manifest analysis, using the ten elements of a health system for grouping data into categories and themes. Of the ten elements in the health system dynamics framework, context and resources (finances, infrastructure and supplies, and human resources) were the most influential in the implementation of Option B+ in Uganda. Support from international actors and implementing partners attempted to strengthen resources at district level, but had unintended consequences of creating dependence and uncertainty regarding sustainability. The health system dynamics framework is argued to offer a novel approach to analysis of the effects of implementation of a new policy on critical elements of the health system. Its emphasis on relationships between system elements, population and context is helpful in unpacking impacts of and reactions to pressures on the system, which adds value beyond some previous frameworks.