African church leaders have expressed fear that the interests of the poor are not reflected in draft documents produced for Accra High-Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness. Half of all aid comes in the form of expensive consultants responding to directives from donors. Local communities must have a greater role in making decisions that ultimately affect their lives the most. Imposed conditions of international donors continue to undermine democratic ownership of aid. Rich country governments are behaving shamefully in tying aid to promoting their own economic interests. Requiring food aid be supplied by Northern producers in the current food crisis is immoral. Aid should not benefit the rich while the poor go hungry. Churches and faith-based organisations are major providers of health, education and other social services in developing countries; as such they must be recognised as partners in delivering development aid.
Resource allocation and health financing
Following a meeting in London on March 5, civil society representatives from across Africa and Asia gathered in Johannesburg on 13 and 14 May. The purpose of the meeting was broadly the same as the earlier session held in London in April: to allow individuals and groups with first-hand experience of the challenges around healthcare provision and funding to feed their views into the Taskforce’s deliberations. Delegates turned their attention to a series of key issues, including ways to bridge gaps in existing resources, provide more of those resources, and link such measures to existing international and national health system frameworks.
They also had the chance to quiz members of the Taskforce secretariat in plenary sessions, which provoked valuable debate on issues such as stakeholder participation in potential solutions and the way in which the Taskforce operates, as well as airing challenges to be overcome in individual countries. Mrs. Graca Machel, Taskforce member and President of the Foundation for Community Development in Mozambique, addressed delegates on both days of the meeting. In her opening remarks, Mrs. Machel seized on the ‘monumental’ nature of the challenge to meet the health-related MDGs by 2015. Existing crises in food and fuel had been compounded in 2008 by a financial crisis; left unaddressed, these combined crises will cause over 200,000 additional deaths. She called on delegates to consider, in their discussions, how solutions could be ‘country-owned’, but also internationally credible, with monitoring systems implemented which focus firmly on results.
Trying to determine how best to allocate resources in health care is especially difficult when resources are severely constrained, as is the case in all developing countries. This is particularly true in South Africa currently where the HIV epidemic adds significantly to a health service already overstretched by the demands made upon it. This paper proposes a framework for determining how best to allocate scarce health care resources in such circumstances, which is based on communitarian claims. The basis of possible claims considered include: the need for health care, specified both as illness and capacity to benefit; whether or not claimants have personal responsibility in the conditions that have generated their health care need; relative deprivation or disadvantage; and the impact of services on the health of society and on the social fabric. Ways of determining these different claims in practice and the weights to be attached to them are also discussed.
The advent of South Africa’s National Health Insurance (NHI) scheme opens up a political space to campaign for a health service that will best address South Africa’s health crisis and reduce the extreme inequities between poor and rich, rural and urban, and public sector and private health service users. The authors argue that such a campaign must counter powerful groups with vested interests who portray public systems as inefficient and second-best, and see the NHI as an opportunity to preserve a private health system (which is innately inequitable because of the need to profit from disease). They further argue that the NHI will not only render health care more accessible and equitable, but also create many more jobs and indirectly improve health by reducing the prevalence and depth of poverty. Rationalisation, standardisation and expansion of the skills of community-based care workers is urgently needed, as is improvement of their insecure employment conditions. The proposed ‘Re-engineering of Primary Health Care’ initiative puts forward a healthcare model that is similar to Brazil’s successful Family Health Programme, and would be substantially cheaper than the current private sector model, and more cost-effective than the current hospital-dominated public sector.
According to the People’s Health Movement (PHM), the World Health Organisation (WHO) is initiating reform process to enable the organisation to more effectively respond to today’s global health challenges and particularly to its financing challenges. The PHM proposes that reforms are needed in five areas to enable the WHO to exert its global health leadership role: Giving real voice to multiple stakeholders; improving its transparency, performance, and accountability; providing closer oversight of regions; exerting its legal authority as a rule-making body; and ensuring predictable, sustained financing. To fulfil its mandate the WHO needs a budget that is adequate, predictable and untied. PHM argues that WHO’s state of financing is untenable; only 18% of WHO’s funding comes from core, assessed contributions. The rest is cobbled together from multiple streams of voluntary donations, grants and in-kind support, much of which is conditional. A high proportion of voluntary contributions by member states undermines the organisation’s independence and results in huge inefficiencies. Increasing dependence on private philanthropies and corporates carries serious risks of further distorting WHO's priorities. PHM calls for the assessed contributions formula for countries to be reviewed and revised to help create fair and adequate system of public financing for the WHO. PHM proposes that member states collectively commit to increasing assessed funding so that it reaches 50% of the overall budget over the next five years and warn against WHO pursuing public-private partnerships without ensuring safeguards against corporate influence over policy making and pernicious conflicts of interest.
Kenya has been considering introducing a national health insurance scheme (NHIS) since 2004. This study contributes to this process by exploring communities' understanding and perceptions of health insurance and their preferred designs features. Data collection methods included a cross-sectional household survey and focus group discussions. About half of the household survey respondents had at least one member in a health insurance scheme. There was high awareness of health insurance but limited knowledge of how it functions or of key concepts related to income and risk cross-subsidization. Wide dissatisfaction with the public health system was reported. However, the government was the most preferred and trusted agency for collecting revenue as part of a NHIS. People preferred a comprehensive benefit package that included inpatient and outpatient care with no co-payments. Affordability of premiums, timing of contributions and the extent to which population needs would be met under a contributory scheme were major issues of concern for a NHIS design. Possibilities of funding health care through tax instead of NHIS were raised and preferred by the majority.
Kenya has been considering introducing a national health insurance scheme (NHIS) since 2004. This study contributes to this process by exploring through a cross sectional survey communities’ understanding and perceptions of health insurance and their preferred designs features. Kenyans should understand the implications of health financing reforms and their preferred design features considered to ensure acceptability and sustainability. About half of the household survey respondents had at least one member in a health insurance scheme. There was high awareness of health insurance schemes but limited knowledge of how health insurance functions as well as understanding of key concepts related to income and risk cross-subsidization. Wide dissatisfaction with the public health system was reported. However, the government was the most preferred and trusted agency for collecting revenue as part of a NHIS. People preferred a comprehensive benefit package that included inpatient and outpatient care with no co-payments. Affordability of premiums, timing of contributions and the extent to which population needs would be met under a contributory scheme were major issues of concern for a NHIS design. Possibilities of funding health care through tax instead of NHIS were raised and preferred by the majority.
In the context of inadequate public expenditure in the health sector, many countries have installed cost recovery systems, such as user fees, as a supplementary financing approach for health care services. This practice has raised concerns over equity and access to health care for the poor, and the search for complementary financing solutions continues. A 1997 review identified 81 documented CBHF schemes from throughout the world, with the majority in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia. This document aims to answer basic questions on CBHF that might be posed by policymakers and technical assistance providers interested in this topic.
Since committing to a common standard for publishing aid information at the Fourth High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness at Busan in 2011, 42 governments and external funders have released implementation schedules outlining their plans to meet this commitment. In this short paper, Publish What You Fund analyses the schedules. It notes that some external funders are planning a substantial increase in the quality of their data, but most have failed to commit to publishing timely, comparable and forward-looking information. It appears that some of the most important data are only going to be delivered by a small number of funders, particularly data on results and conditions. This needs to be addressed. A small group of external funders are planning no IATI-compatible publication at all: this paper recommends they should reflect on their Busan commitment to ‘implement a common, open standard for electronic publication of timely, comprehensive and forward-looking information’. Finally, Publish What You Fund says implementation needs to start soon, so that external funders can learn lessons (both from their own experience and that of their peers), and achieve their aim of fully implementing the schedules by the end of 2015.
Major projected cuts in United States (US) government funding for Ethiopia's health sector could greatly undermine the progress the country has made in the fight against HIV, authorities and experts say. Next year, Ethiopia will experience a 79% reduction in US HIV financing from the US President's Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). Most of the cuts are going to be around softer programmatic activities that can be taken care of by mobilising internal resources as well as using some innovative approaches like the health development army. A major cut would be felt in HIV and AIDS programmes, which would receive only US$54.1 million, a dramatic cut from the $254.1 million allocated in 2012. Between 2006 and 2011, Ethiopia received an estimated $1.4 billion from PEPFAR. Since 2004, Ethiopia has also received $1.23 billion from the Global Fund, making it one of the Fund's biggest recipients globally.