The public/private mix and human resources for health.
This paper examines the general question of the public/private mix in health care, with special emphasis on its implications for human resources. After a brief conceptual exercise to clarify these terms, we place the problem of human resources in the context of the growing complexity of health systems. We next move to an analysis of potential policy alternatives. Unfortunately, a lot of the public/private debate has looked only at the pragmatic aspects of such alternatives. Each of them, however, reflects a specific set of values--an ideology--that must be made explicit. For this reason, we outline the value assumptions of the four major principles to allocate resources for health care: purchasing power, poverty, socially perceived priority, and citizenship. Finally, the last section discusses some of the policy options that health care systems face today, with respect to the combinations of public and private financing and delivery of services. The conclusion is that we need to move away from false dichotomies and dilemmas as we search for creative ways of combining the best of the state and the market in order to replace polarized with pluralistic systems. The paper is based on a fundamental premise: The way we deal with the question of the public/private mix will largely determine the shape of health care in the next century. (+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)
Managing the health care market in developing countries: prospects and problems.
There is increasing interest in the prospects for managed market reforms in developing countries, stimulated by current reforms and policy debates in developed countries, and by perceptions of widespread public sector inefficiency in many countries. This review examines the prospects for such reforms in a developing country context, primarily by drawing on the arguments and evidence emerging from developed countries, with a specific focus on the provision of hospital services. The paper begins with a discussion of the current policy context of these reforms, and their main features. It argues that while current and proposed reforms vary in detail, most have in common the introduction of competition in the provision of health care, with the retention of a public monopoly of financing, and that this structure emerges from the dual goals of addressing current public sector inefficiencies while retaining the known equity and efficiency advantages of public health systems. The paper then explores the theoretical arguments and empirical evidence for and against these reforms, and examines their relevance for developing countries. Managed markets are argued to enhance both efficiency and equity. These arguments are analysed in terms of three distinct claims made by their proponents: that managed markets will promote increased provider competition, and hence, provider efficiency; that contractual relationships are more efficient than direct management; and that the benefits of managed markets will outweigh their costs. The analysis suggests that on all three issues, the theoretical arguments and empirical evidence remain ambiguous, and that this ambiguity is attributable in part to poor understanding of the behaviour of health sector agents within the market, and to the limited experience with these reforms. In the context of developing countries, the paper argues that most of the conditions required for successful implementation of these reforms are absent in all but a few, richer developing countries, and that the costs of these reforms, particularly in equity terms, are likely to pose substantial problems. Extensive managed market reforms are therefore unlikely to succeed, although limited introduction of particular elements of these reforms may be more successful. Developed country experience is useful in defining the conditions under which such limited reforms may succeed. There is an urgent need to evaluate the existing experience of different forms of contracting in developing countries, as well as to interpret emerging evidence from developed country reforms in the light of conditions in developing countries. (+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)
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)
Costs and financing of improvements in the quality of maternal health services through the Bamako Initiative in Nigeria.
This paper reports on a study to assess the quality of maternal health care in public health facilities in Nigeria and to identify the resource implications of making the necessary quality improvements. Drawing upon unifying themes from quality assurance, basic microeconomics and the Bamako Initiative, locally defined norms were used to estimate resource requirements for improving the quality of maternal health care. Wide gaps existed between what is required (the norm) and what was available in terms of fixed and variable resources required for the delivery of maternal health services in public facilities implementing the Bamako Initiative in the Local Government Areas studied. Given such constraints, it was highly unlikely that technically acceptable standards of care could be met without additional resource inputs to meet the norm. This is part of the cost of doing business and merits serious policy dialogue. Revenue generation from health services was poor and appeared to be more related to inadequate supply of essential drugs and consumables than to the use of uneconomic fee scales. It is likely that user fees will be necessary to supplement scarce government budgets, especially to fund the most critical variable inputs associated with quality improvements. However, any user fee system, especially one that raises fees to patients, will have to be accompanied by immediate and visible quality improvements. Without such quality improvements, cost recovery will result in even lower utilization and attempts to generate new revenues are unlikely to succeed. (+info)
Reform follows failure: I. Unregulated private care in Lebanon.
This first of two papers on the health sector in Lebanon describes how unregulated development of private care quickly led to a crisis situation. Following the civil war the health care sector in Lebanon is characterized by (i) ambulatory care provided by private practitioners working as individual entrepreneurs, and, to a small extent, by NGO health centres; and (ii) by a fast increase in hi-tech private hospitals. The latter is fuelled by unregulated purchase of hospital care by the Ministry of Health and public insurance schemes. Health expenditure and financing patterns are described. The position of the public sector in this context is analyzed. In Lebanon unregulated private care has resulted in major inefficiencies, distortion of the health care system, the creation of a culture that is oriented to secondary care and technology, and a non-sustainable cost explosion. Between 1991 and 1995 this led to a financing and organizational crisis that is the background for growing pressure for reform. (+info)
Commentary: Emerging and other communicable diseases.
There is an increasing need for integrated, sustainable; and cost-effective approaches to the management of infectious diseases. For example, an emerging disease in one country may already be endemic in another country but nearing elimination in a third. A coordinated approach by WHO towards infectious diseases is therefore needed that will facilitate more effective support of on-going efforts for the prevention and control of endemic diseases, intensify efforts against those diseases targeted for eradication and elimination, and result in better preparedness and response to new and re-emerging diseases. In order to meet these challenges, WHO has created a new Programme on Communicable Diseases (CDS), which will replace the former Division of Emerging and other Communicable Diseases (EMC). The new Programme will better integrate surveillance, prevention, control, and research over the whole spectrum of communicable diseases. CDS will function as focal point for global data and information exchange on infectious diseases, and inter alia, will reinforce laboratory-based surveillance of bacterial, viral, and zoonotic diseases to ensure early detection of threats to international public health. Changes in susceptibility to infectious disease, increased opportunities for infection, and the ability of microbes to adapt rapidly will continue to challenge WHO to improve prevention and control of infectious diseases in the future by establishing strong partnerships with both the private and public sectors. (+info)