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(1/1095) Tobacco control advocates must demand high-quality media campaigns: the California experience.

OBJECTIVE: To document efforts on the part of public officials in California to soften the media campaign's attack on the tobacco industry and to analyse strategies to counter those efforts on the part of tobacco control advocates. METHODS: Data were gathered from interviews with programme participants, direct observation, written materials, and media stories. In addition, internal documents were released by the state's Department of Health Services in response to requests made under the California Public Records Act by Americans for Nonsmokers' Rights. Finally, a draft of the paper was circulated to 11 key players for their comments. RESULTS: In 1988 california voters enacted Proposition 99, an initiative that raised the tobacco tax by $0.25 and allocated 20% of the revenues to anti-tobacco education. A media campaign, which was part of the education programme, directly attacked the tobacco industry, exposing the media campaign to politically based efforts to shut it down or soften it. Through use of outsider strategies such as advertising, press conferences, and public meetings, programme advocates were able to counter the efforts to soften the campaign. CONCLUSION: Anti-tobacco media campaigns that expose industry manipulation are a key component of an effective tobacco control programme. The effectiveness of these campaigns, however, makes them a target for elimination by the tobacco industry. The experience from California demonstrates the need for continuing, aggressive intervention by nongovernmental organisations in order to maintain the quality of anti-tobacco media campaigns.  (+info)

(2/1095) Regional organisational audit of district departments of public health.

Organisational audit of public health in the United Kingdom is rare. To provide a framework for a structured organisational audit in district public health departments in one region organisational factors contributing to efficient, high quality work were identified and compared between districts, enabling each department to identify its organisational strengths and weaknesses. A draft list of organisational factors, based on the King's Fund organisational audit programme, were rated by 52 public health physicians and trainees in 12 district public health departments in South East Thames region for their importance on a scale of 0 (not relevant) to 5 (vital). Factors with average ratings of > 4, judged to be "vital" and proxies for standards, were then used to compare each district's actual performance, as reported by its director of public health in a self reported questionnaire. In all, 37 responses were received to the rating questionnaire (response rate 71%) and 12 responses to the directors' questionnaire. Of the 54 factors identified as vital factors, 20(37%) were achieved in all 12 districts and 16(30%) in all but one district; 18 were not being achieved by two (33%) districts or more. Overall, vital factors were not being achieved in 9% of cases. The authors concluded that most departments are achieving most vital organisational factors most of the time, but improvement is still possible. The results have been used as a basis for planning the organisation of public health departments in several of the newly formed commissioning agencies. This was the first regional audit of public health of its kind performed in the region and it provided valuable experience for planning future regional audit activity.  (+info)

(3/1095) Stroke: the global burden.

Stroke is a major global health problem. It is a major cause of mortality, morbidity and disability in developed and increasingly in less developed countries. Worldwide, it is the leading cause of healthy years lost in late adulthood, and evidence indicates that the burden of stroke, particularly in terms of morbidity and disability, will almost certainly increase in the foreseeable future. This review aims to generate a better understanding of the present and projected future global burden of stroke, with particular emphasis on the non-established market economy countries (NEMEC). The first part summarizes and interprets the currently available evidence on stroke mortality, incidence, case-fatality and related disability rates from both established and non-established market economy countries. The second part reviews the main risk factors for stroke. For the modifiable factors, it examines current prevalence rates in NEMEC with a view towards identifying patterns that are relevant for predicting future rates of the disease. Reversing the consequences of stroke is difficult, thus primary prevention is of utmost importance. The potential for prevention is illustrated by the experience of Japan, which in the last two decades has seen substantial declines in stroke mortality--mostly due to reductions in dietary salt intake. The last section discusses potential strategies and approaches to effective stroke prevention and highlights other areas that need to be addressed if stroke management in the coming decades is to be effective.  (+info)

(4/1095) Quality of primary outpatient services in Dar-es-Salaam: a comparison of government and voluntary providers.

This study aimed to test whether voluntary agencies provide care of better quality than that provided by government with respect to primary curative outpatient services in Dar-es-Salaam. All non-government primary services were included, and government primary facilities were randomly sampled within the three districts of the city. Details of consultations were recorded and assessed by a panel who classed consultations as adequate, inadequate but serious consequences unlikely, and consultations where deficiencies in the care could have serious consequences. Interpersonal conduct was assessed and exit interviews were conducted. The study found that government registers of non-government 'voluntary' providers actually contained a high proportion of for-profit private providers. Comparisons between facilities showed that care was better overall at voluntary providers, but that there was a high level of inadequate care at both government and non-government providers.  (+info)

(5/1095) Protecting the poor under cost recovery: the role of means testing.

In African health sectors, the importance of protecting the very poor has been underscored by increased reliance on user fees to help finance services. This paper presents a conceptual framework for understanding the role means testing can play in promoting equity under health care cost recovery. Means testing is placed in the broader context of targeting and contrasted with other mechanisms. Criteria for evaluating outcomes are established and used to analyze previous means testing experience in Africa. A survey of experience finds a general pattern of informal, low-accuracy, low-cost means testing in Africa. Detailed household data from a recent cost recovery experiment in Niger, West Africa, provides an unusual opportunity to observe outcomes of a characteristically informal means testing system. Findings from Niger suggest that achieving both the revenue raising and equity potential of cost recovery in sub-Saharan Africa will require finding ways to improve informal means testing processes.  (+info)

(6/1095) Improving quality through cost recovery in Niger.

New evidence on the quality of health care from public services in Niger is discussed in terms of the relationships between quality, costs, cost-effectiveness and financing. Although structural attributes of quality appeared to improve with the pilot project in Niger, significant gaps in the implementation of diagnostic and treatment protocols were observed, particularly in monitoring vital signs, diagnostic examination and provider-patient communications. Quality improvements required significant investments in both fixed and variable costs; however, many of these costs were basic input requirements for operation. It is likely that optimal cost-effectiveness of services was not achieved because of the noted deficiencies in quality. In the test district of Boboye, the revenues from the copayments alone covered about 34% of the costs of medicines or about 20% of costs of drugs and administration. In Say, user fees covered about 50-55% of the costs of medicines or 35-40% of the amount spent on medicines and cost-recovery administration. In Boboye, taxes plus the additional copayments covered 120-180% of the cost of medicines, or 75-105% of the cost of medicines plus administration of cost recovery. Decentralized management and legal conditions in the pilot districts appeared to provide the necessary structure to ensure that the revenues and taxes collected would be channelled to pay for quality improvements.  (+info)

(7/1095) Efficiency and quality in the public and private sectors in Senegal.

It is often argued that the private sector is more efficient than the public sector in the production of health services, and that government reliance on private provision would help improve the efficiency and equity of public spending in health. A review of the literature, however, shows that there is little evidence to support these statements. A study of government and non-governmental facilities was undertaken in Senegal, taking into account case mix, input prices, and quality of care, to examine relative efficiency in the delivery of health services. The study revealed that private providers are highly heterogeneous, although they tend to offer better quality services. A specific and important group of providers--Catholic health posts--were shown to be significantly more efficient than public and other private facilities in the provision of curative and preventive ambulatory services at high levels of output. Policies to expand the role of the private sector need to take into account variations in types of providers, as well as evidence of both high and low quality among them. In terms of public sector efficiency, findings from the study affirm others that indicate drug policy reform to be one of the most important policy interventions that can simultaneously improve efficiency, quality and effectiveness of care. Relationships that this study identified between quality and efficiency suggest that strategies to improve quality can increase efficiency, raise demand for services, and thereby expand access.  (+info)

(8/1095) Increasing the utilization of cost-effective health services through changes in demand.

Attaining efficiency in a health care system with a budget constraint involves increasing the utilization of the most cost-effective services. This can be achieved by adjustments to prices, cost curves, or demand curves. In this paper, the potential for demand curve adjustments is examined by selecting two apparently cost-effective services (prenatal care and childhood immunization against tuberculosis), and analyzing the factors explaining their utilization. Data from recent household surveys in Burkina Faso and Niger are used. A multivariate analysis of utilization employs income, price, and taste variables. Utilization is highly sensitive to the distance which must be travelled to the health facility, a price, and taste variables. Utilization is highly sensitive to the distance which must be travelled to the health facility, a price variable. Members of certain ethnic groups tend to use the services less, other things being equal. The importance of demand-side factors like ethnicity points to certain kinds of policy interventions like information, education and communication activities which could increase the utilization of cost-effective services.  (+info)