Disease eradication and health systems development.
This article provides a framework for the design of future eradication programmes so that the greatest benefit accrues to health systems development from the implementation of such programmes. The framework focuses on weak and fragile health systems and assumes that eradication leads to the cessation of the intervention required to eradicate the disease. Five major components of health systems are identified and key elements which are of particular relevance to eradication initiatives are defined. The dearth of documentation which can provide "lessons learned" in this area is illustrated with a brief review of the literature. Opportunities and threats, which can be addressed during the design of eradication programmes, are described and a number of recommendations are outlined. It is emphasized that this framework pertains to eradication programmes but may be useful in attempts to coordinate vertical and horizontal disease control activities for maximum mutual benefits. (+info)
Potential advantages of DNA immunization for influenza epidemic and pandemic planning.
Immunization with purified DNA is a powerful technique for inducing immune responses. The concept of DNA immunization involves insertion of the gene encoding the antigen of choice into a bacterial plasmid and injection of the plasmid into the host where the antigen is expressed and where it induces humoral and cellular immunity. The most effective routes and methods for DNA immunization are bombardment with particles coated with DNA ("gene gun" technique), followed by the intramuscular and intradermal routes. DNA immunization technology has the potential to induce immunity to all antigens that can be completely encoded in DNA, which therefore include all protein, but not carbohydrate, antigens. DNA immunization results in presentation of antigens to the host's immune system in a natural form, like that achieved with live-attenuated vaccines. The DNA immunization strategy has the potential to rapidly provide a new vaccine in the face of an emerging influenza pandemic. (+info)
Containing health costs in the Americas.
In recent years, a series of policy measures affecting both demand and supply components of health care have been adopted in different Latin American and Caribbean countries, as well as in Canada and the United States. In applying these measures various objectives have been pursued, among them: to mobilize additional resources to increase operating budgets; to reduce unnecessary utilization of health services and consumption of pharmaceuticals; to control increasing production costs; and to contain the escalation of health care expenditures. In terms of demand management, some countries have established cost-recovery programmes in an attempt to offset declining revenues. These measures have the potential to generate additional operating income in public facilities, particularly if charges are levied on hospital care. However, only scant information is available on the effects of user charges on demand, utilization, or unit costs. In terms of supply management, corrective measures have concentrated on limiting the quantity and the relative prices of different inputs and outputs. Hiring freezes, salary caps, limitations on new construction and equipment, use of drug lists, bulk procurement of medicines and vaccines, and budget ceilings are among the measures utilized to control production costs in the health sector. To moderate health care expenditures, various approaches have been followed to subject providers to 'financial discipline'. Among them, new reimbursement modalities such as prospective payment systems offer an array of incentives to modify medical practice. Cost-containment efforts have also spawned innovations in the organization and delivery of health services. Group plans have been established on the basis of prepaid premiums to provide directly much or all health care needs of affiliates and their families. The issue of intrasectorial co-ordination, particularly between ministries of health and social security institutions, has much relevance for cost containment. In various countries, large-scale reorganization processes have been undertaken to eliminate costly duplications of resources, personnel, and services that resulted from the multiplicity of providers in the public subsector. Given the pluralistic character of the region's health systems, an important challenge for policy-makers is to find ways to redefine the role of state intervention in health from the simple provision of services to one that involves the 'management' of health care in the entire sector. (+info)
The potential of health sector non-governmental organizations: policy options.
Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have increasingly been promoted as alternative health care providers to the state, furthering the same goals but less hampered by government inefficiencies and resource constraints. However, the reality of NGO health care provision is more complex. Not only is the distinction between government and NGO providers sometimes difficult to determine because of their operational integration, but NGOs may also suffer from resource constraionts and management inefficiencies similar to those of government providers. Some registered NGOs operate as for-profit providers in practice. Policy development must reflect the strengths and weaknesses of NGOs in particular settings and should be built on NGO advantages over government in terms of resource mobilization, efficiency and/or quality. Policy development will always require a strong government presence in co-ordinating and regulating health care provision, and an NGO sector responsive to the policy goals of government. (+info)
The state of health planning in the '90s.
The art of health planning is relatively new in many developing countries and its record is not brilliant. However, for policy makers committed to sustainable health improvements and the principle of equity, it is an essential process, and in need of improvement rather than minimalization. The article argues that the possibility of planning playing a proper role in health care allocative decisions is increasingly being endangered by a number of developments. These include the increasing use of projects, inappropriate decentralization policies, and the increasing attention being given to NGOs. More serious is the rise of New Right thinking which is undermining the role of the State altogether in health care provision. The article discusses these developments and makes suggestions as to possible action needed to counteract them. (+info)
Environment, development and health: ideological metaphors of post-traditional societies?
Environment and health have become nearly interchangeable concepts in post-traditional societies. We are able to observe almost an obsession with them, as if individual changes in ways of life--important for the individual and significant for the culture though they may be--possessed the power to overthrow a system of economic relations that aims at growth in numerical terms rather than at development, enabling society to sustain its specific modes of private and public interaction. (+info)
Planning for the sustainability of community-based health programs: conceptual frameworks and future directions for research, practice and policy.
Attention to the sustainability of health intervention programs both in the US and abroad is increasing, but little consensus exists on the conceptual and operational definitions of sustainability. Moreover, an empirical knowledge base about the determinants of sustainability is still at an early stage. Planning for sustainability requires, first, a clear understanding of the concept of sustainability and operational indicators that may be used in monitoring sustainability over time. Important categories of indicators include: (1) maintenance of health benefits achieved through an initial program, (2) level of institutionalization of a program within an organization and (3) measures of capacity building in the recipient community. Second, planning for sustainability requires the use of programmatic approaches and strategies that favor long-term program maintenance. We suggest that the potential influences on sustainability may derive from three major groups of factors: (1) project design and implementation factors, (2) factors within the organizational setting, and (3) factors in the broader community environment. Future efforts to develop sustainable health intervention programs in communities can build on the concepts and strategies proposed here. (+info)
A reassessment of the cost-effectiveness of water and sanitation interventions in programmes for controlling childhood diarrhoea.
Cost-effectiveness analysis indicates that some water supply and sanitation (WSS) interventions are highly cost-effective for the control of diarrhoea among under-5-year-olds, on a par with oral rehydration therapy. These are relatively inexpensive "software-related" interventions such as hygiene education, social marketing of good hygiene practices, regulation of drinking-water, and monitoring of water quality. Such interventions are needed to ensure that the potentially positive health impacts of WSS infrastructure are fully realized in practice. The perception that WSS programmes are not a cost-effective use of health sector resources has arisen from three factors: an assumption that all WSS interventions involve construction of physical infrastructure, a misperception of the health sector's role in WSS programmes, and a misunderstanding of the scope of cost-effectiveness analysis. WSS infrastructure ("hardware") is generally built and operated by public works agencies and financed by construction grants, operational subsidies, user fees and property taxes. Health sector agencies should provide "software" such as project design, hygiene education, and water quality regulation. Cost-effectiveness analysis should measure the incremental health impacts attributable to health sector investments, using the actual call on health sector resources as the measure of cost. The cost-effectiveness of a set of hardware and software combinations is estimated, using US$ per case averted, US$ per death averted, and US$ per disability-adjusted life year (DALY) saved. (+info)