Donor funding for health reform in Africa: is non-project assistance the right prescription?
During the past 10 years, donors have recognized the need for major reforms to achieve sustainable development. Using non-project assistance they have attempted to leverage reforms by offering financing conditioned on the enactment of reform. The experience of USAID's health reform programmes in Niger and Nigeria suggest these programmes have proved more difficult to implement than expected. When a country has in place a high level of fiscal accountability and high institutional capacity, programmes of conditioned non-project assistance may be more effective in achieving reforms than traditional project assistance. However, when these elements are lacking, as they were in Niger, non-project assistance offers nothing inherently superior than traditional project assistance. Non-project assistance may be most effective for assisting the implementation of policy reforms adopted by the host 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)
Aid instruments and health systems development: an analysis of current practice.
There has been a clear shift in the policy of many donors in the health sector-away from discrete project assistance towards more broad-based sectoral support. This paper, based on interviews with officials in a number of bilateral and multilateral agencies, explores whether this shift in policy has been matched by similar changes in the form or range of aid instruments. The paper develops a framework for examining current practice in relation to the different objectives that donors seek to promote through technical and financial assistance. In particular, it looks in some detail at the advantages and disadvantages of budgetary support compared to more traditional forms of project assistance. It concludes that the debate should not be about whether one form of aid is better than another. Ideally, they should be complementary and the forms, channels and systems used for managing aid need to be assessed in relation to how they help to achieve the mix of development objectives that are most appropriate to the country concerned. The review demonstrates that this is a complex task and that to achieve an effective balance is not easy. The final section summarizes the main themes emerging from the discussion and suggests some preliminary conclusions and proposals for future action. (+info)
Helping the urban poor stay with antiretroviral HIV drug therapy.
Recent studies have documented dramatic decreases in opportunistic infections, hospitalizations, and mortality among HIV-infected persons, owing primarily to the advent of highly active antiretroviral medications. Unfortunately, not all segments of the population living with HIV benefit equally from treatment. In San Francisco, only about 30% of the HIV-infected urban poor take combination highly active antiretroviral medications, as compared with 88% of HIV-infected gay men. Practitioners who care for the urban poor are reluctant to prescribe these medications, fearing inadequate or inconsistent adherence to the complicated medical regimen. Persons typically must take 2 to 15 pills at a time, 2 to 3 times a day. Some of the medications require refrigeration, which may not be available to the homeless poor. Most homeless persons do not have food available to them on a consistent schedule. Therefore, they may have difficulty adhering to instructions to take medications only on an empty stomach or with food. Lack of a safe place to store medications may be an issue for some. In addition, many urban poor live with drug, alcohol, or mental health problems, which can interfere with taking medications as prescribed. Inconsistent adherence to medication regimens has serious consequences. Patients do not benefit fully from treatments, and they will become resistant to the medications in their regimen as well as to other medications in the same classes as those in their regimen. Development of resistance has implications for the broader public health, because inadvertent transmission of multidrug-resistant strains of HIV has been demonstrated. Concern that the urban poor will not adhere to highly active antiretroviral medication regimens has led to debate on the role of clinicians and public health officials in determining who can comply with these regimens. Rather than define the characteristics that would predict adherence to these regimens, the San Francisco Department of Public Health created a program to support adherence among those who may have the greatest difficulty complying with complicated highly active antiretroviral medication regimens. The program, dubbed the Action Point Adherence Project, was conceived through a community planning process in preparation for a city-wide summit on HIV/AIDS that took place in January 1998. Action Point is funded by the city and the county of San Francisco. Now in its 10th month, the program continues to show promising evidence of improving clients' biological and social indicators. (+info)
Benchmarking information needs and use in the Tennessee public health community.
OBJECTIVE: The objective is to provide insight to understanding public health officials' needs and promote access to data repositories and communication tools. METHODS: Survey questions were identified by a focus group with members drawn from the fields of librarianship, public health, and informatics. The resulting comprehensive information needs survey, organized in five distinct broad categories, was distributed to 775 Tennessee public health workers from ninety-five counties in 1999 as part of the National Library of Medicine-funded Partners in Information Access contract. RESULTS: The assessment pooled responses from 571 public health workers (73% return rate) representing seventy-two of ninety-five counties (53.4% urban and 46.6% rural) about their information-seeking behaviors, frequency of resources used, computer skills, and level of Internet access. Sixty-four percent of urban and 43% of rural respondents had email access at work and more than 50% of both urban and rural respondents had email at home (N = 289). Approximately 70% of urban and 78% of rural public health officials never or seldom used or needed the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Website. Frequency data pooled from eleven job categories representing a subgroup of 232 health care professionals showed 72% never or seldom used or needed MEDLINE. Electronic resources used daily or weekly were email, Internet search engines, internal databases and mailing lists, and the Tennessee Department of Health Website. CONCLUSIONS: While, due to the small sample size, data cannot be generalized to the larger population, a clear trend of significant barriers to computer and Internet access can be identified across the public health community. This contributes to an overall limited use of existing electronic resources that inhibits evidence-based practice. (+info)
Epidemiology's contribution to health service management and planning in developing countries: a missing link.
Two hypotheses are examined in the light of experience and the literature: (1) health service planning requires little epidemiological information, and (2) health services rarely get useful answers to relevant epidemiological questions. In the first hypothesis, the theoretical robustness of the concept of a minimum package of activities common to all facilities belonging to the same level of the system and the extent to which it is unaffected by variations in the frequencies of most diseases are examined. Semi-quantitative analyses and analysis of routine entries and participation suffice to adapt this package to the local context. Some of the methods which give a fundamental role to epidemiological information are criticized. With regard to the second hypothesis, the pertinent contributions epidemiology may make to health service organization are reviewed. These include identification of diseases that justify special activities (health maps and interepidemic surveillance), determination of the activities that should be added to the health centres, the political usefulness of rare impact assessments, and the relevant demographic elements. Finally an epidemiological agenda is proposed for specialized centres, districts, universities, and the central decision-making level of health ministries in developing countries. (+info)
Strengthening the public health system.
Although the American public health system has made major contributions to life expectancy for residents of this country over the past century, the system now faces more complex health problems that require comprehensive approaches and increased capacity, particularly in local and State public health agencies. To strengthen the public health system, concerted action is needed to meet these five critical needs: First, the knowledge base of public health workers needs to be supplemented through on-the-job training and continuing education programs. To this end, self-study courses will be expanded, and a network of regional training centers will be established throughout the country. Second, communities need dynamic leadership from public health officials and their agencies. To enhance leadership skills and expand the leadership role of public health agencies, focused personal leadership development activities, including a Public Health Leadership Institute, and national conferences will provide a vision of the future role of public health agencies. Third, local and State public health agencies need access to data on the current health status of the people in their communities and guidance from the nation's public health experts. To improve access to information resources, state-of-the-art technologies will be deployed to create integrated information and communication systems linking all components of the public health system. Fourth, local and State agencies need disease prevention and health promotion plans that target problems and develop strategies and the capacity to address them. To provide communities with structured approaches to this process, planning tools have been developed and distributed, and technical assistance will be provided to local and State health agencies to involve each community in planning,priority setting, and constituency building.Finally, public health agencies need adequate resources to fund prevention programs. To improve the use of existing Federal support and enhance the availability of new community resources, grant programs will be modified, and innovative approaches to local resource enhancement will be developed and shared.Activities in these five key areas are designed to improve the infrastructure of the public health system and its capacity to carry out effectively the core functions of public health assessment, policy development, and assurance of the availability of the benefits of public health. If the nation is to achieve the health objectives for the year 2000, the public health system-the individuals and institutions that, when working effectively together, promote and protect the health of the people-must be strengthened. (+info)
The prevention challenge and opportunity.
In the United States, more money is spent on treating diseases and their complications than on preventing them in the first place. Prevention is both undervalued and poorly supported in our health system. In this Perspective I discuss how the McKinlay model can be used to illustrate the three levels at which we need to increase our investment in prevention. I recognize the many challenges in implementing programs of prevention, but I also note that these programs represent opportunities to improve health, prevent unnecessary pain and suffering, and, in time, develop a health system that is balanced and affordable. (+info)