This week two thousand people gathered in Recife, Brazil for the 3rd Global Forum on Human Resources for Health. As well as looking back on progress made over the past decade, the Forum also looked ahead to the role of health workers in achieving Universal Health Coverage (UHC).
The overarching message from the Forum is that UHC depends on health workers. However, new data published at the Forum warns that we face a current shortage of more than 7.2 million doctors, nurses and midwives, not to mention those uncounted community health workers who are often the only healthcare providers available to the poorest people.
This article is cross-posted from This is Africa a service from the Financial Times
Empirical studies have linked democracy to improved social indicators, but debate rages on the causal mechanisms at play. Africa shows there is no straightforward link between multiparty electoral democracy and better healthcare outcomes.
In the 1990s, the Nobel prize-winning economist Amartya Sen made a compelling case for democratisation. ''No famine has ever taken place in the history of the world in a functioning democracy,'' he wrote. This is because governments ''have to win elections and face public criticism, and have strong incentives to undertake measures to avert famines and other catastrophes.''
His argument has shaped thinking in countless areas of public service delivery - from education to infrastructure; but none more so than healthcare.
UHC Forward's Weekly Roundup of Headlines from Around the Globe
Week of October 21, 2013 - Governments around the world are engaging in serious political and technical discussions on how to expand health coverage. Still others are considering such reforms, but are struggling to navigate the legal, financial, and political frameworks of their countries to determine the best path towards universal health coverage (UHC).
Below is a list of UHC-related headlines from around the world.
An interesting debate on universal health coverage is taking place in the Health Harmonization Community of Practice. The below comment is by Robert Soeters and Godelieve van Heteren with comments from Frank van de Looij of Sina Health in reaction to the exciting debate.
A performance-based financing approach is a health reform framework, which aims at achieving universal health coverage (UHC) and that could also be combined with different revenue collection and pooling mechanisms. Different from other health financing mechanisms, PBF focuses in the first place on improving the quality of service delivery, efficiency and sustainability. Health systems based only on tax revenues, government provision and producing free health care or national obligatory insurance schemes often underestimate the impact of provider behavior on the quality of care and efficiency.
By Thierry van Bastelaer
I want to live in a world where all governments, however resource-challenged, take care of their populations’ most basic needs — starting with health. In this world, fiscal resources would be unlimited (or donors will be around forever), and social solidarity is so strong that everybody is happy to pitch in to provide free care to the poorest.
A recent report from Oxfam “Universal Health Coverage: Why Health Insurance Schemes are Leaving the Poor Behind,” seems to suggest that this is the world that we live in. Unfortunately, it’s not. Arguing, as Oxfam does, that the public sector can finally bring about universal health coverage on its own ignores the complex political and economic realities in most developing countries.
Local politics have dynamics of their own — and they are not always focused on the needs of the poorest. Charismatic, socially driven leaders retire or are replaced.
Extending Coverage to the Informal Sector: JLN Countries Exchange Lessons and Challenges with Indonesia
By Annette Ozaltin
Cross-posted from the Joint Learning Network
Six of Indonesia’s government ministries participated in a high level forum on September 30 - October 2, 2013 that seems to have broken a logjam on how to attain health coverage for households dependent on informal sector workers. The High Level Forum on Expanding Coverage to the Informal Sector, supported by the JLN, AusAID, GIZ, WHO and the World Bank, resulted in an agreement to implement pilots that will evaluate options in extending coverage to this population group.
By Gorik Ooms
About a year ago, at the AIDS 2012 conference in Washington DC, I wondered why the theme universal health coverage was virtually absent from the conference. It looked as if UNAIDS' universal test-and-treat strategy and WHO's universal health coverage plan were designed for two different worlds, as I argued in a blog post then. Such a division of global health advocates was bad news for global health, in my opinion, especially in light of the coming MDG negotiations. We should not count on three or more health-focused MDGs this time.
But I also understood why the AIDS activists at the conference were wary about supporting universal health coverage.
By Joe Kutzin
More meetings on UHC and health financing (a fact, not a complaint)
I go to a lot of meetings on UHC and health financing (again, that’s a fact, not a complaint). In the past two weeks, I participated in a panel discussion on UHC at the WHO Regional Committee for Africa, and I’m just back from a meeting on the role of the Regional Office for the Americas (PAHO) in supporting its member-states to make equitable progress towards UHC. While neither meeting was focused solely or even primarily on health financing, I almost always am, and as I sat in PAHO’s DC office I began to think about what lessons does Latin America’s rich experience hold for low- and middle- income countries elsewhere in the world.
Tomorrow, October 1st 2013, is the day that a number of provisions of US healthcare reform go into effect. Tomorrow is also the day that the US government might come to a grinding halt, because opponents of health reform would rather shut down key government services than see health reforms implemented.
Many of my health expert friends outside the US have told me that they are trying to understand how the US health system currently works, what the Affordable Care Act--now commonly known as Obamacare--will do to fix its glaring problems, and why the reform is so controversial. The following “primer” attempts to explain the often perplexing substance and politics of US health reform.
UHC Forward's weekly roundup of headlines from around the globe
Week of September 16, 2013 - Governments around the world are engaging in serious political and technical discussions on how to expand health coverage. Still others are considering such reforms, but are struggling to navigate the legal, financial, and political frameworks of their countries to determine the best path towards universal health coverage (UHC).
Below is a list of UHC-related headlines from around the world. If you are viewing this on the web and would prefer to receive The Week in Headlines in your inbox every week, subscribe to the email edition.
10th Anniversary of the NHIS: A decade ago, following series of pilots in selected districts, the National Health Insurance Act, 2003 (Act 650) was passed by Parliament into law. The scheme has since grown to become a major instrument of financing healthcare delivery in Ghana.