(The Lancet) - Of course, it never went away. But to many people working in global health, the rapid growth of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation led the Rockefeller leadership, especially after 2005, to lose confidence in their role as a philanthropist for health. In 2013, on the occasion of the Foundation's centenary celebrations, Judith Rodin, Rockefeller's current President, has reasserted her commitment to global health at an urgently important political moment.
Founded by John D Rockefeller in 1913, the Foundation set out an outrageously ambitious goal: “to promote the wellbeing of mankind throughout the world”. Health was its first priority, with a grant of $100 000 to the American Red Cross. In 1914, the Foundation established the China Medical Board, and the Peking Union Medical College opened its doors in 1917 (it remains a leading academic medical centre to this day).
(Senate of the Philippines) - The Senate today approved on third and final reading a bill seeking to amend the PhilHealth Law to ensure better health insurance coverage for Filipinos, especially the underprivileged sector.
Sen. Pia Cayetano, chair of the Committee on Health and Demography and sponsor of Senate Bill 2849, said that under the bill, the national government will shoulder the premiums for the health insurance of the indigent sector while local government units and other sponsors, including legislative sponsors and the national government, will jointly shoulder premiums for the lowest income level of the informal sector.
"To ensure that primary health care is available to all regardless of enrolment, Section 6 of the bill, which is on benefits, mandates that no Filipino shall be denied access to basic health care services. This mandate does not distinguish whether one has paid the premiums or not.
(New York Times) - In the less than two decades since the 1994 genocide that killed nearly a million Rwandans and displaced another two million, the country has become a spectacular public health success story and could provide a model for the rest of Africa, according to a new analysis by American health experts.
In an article published last month by the British journal BMJ, Dr. Paul E. Farmer, a founder of Partners in Health, which delivers medical services in Rwanda and Haiti, totaled up the successes the tiny country has managed. In 1994, 78 percent of the population lived below the poverty line; now 45 percent do. The gross domestic product has more than trebled.
“Of the many opportunities and challenges this Organization and our Member States face, one goal stands atop all the others. It is providing universal access to health care across the Americas,” she said. “No other single achievement would contribute more to ensuring a long, dignified and productive life.”
Dr. Etienne, formerly Assistant Director-General at the World Health Organization (WHO) in Geneva, was sworn in as the 10th Director of PAHO.
An adequate, performing health workforce is vital for improving health service coverage and health outcomes.1 Yet the availability, distribution, capacity and performance of human resources for health (HRH) varies widely and many countries have fewer health workers than needed for high coverage of essential health services, according to the World health report 2006.2 Signs of progress are emerging, though; several countries are successfully addressing their problems in the area of HRH, resulting in improvements in health outcomes.3 These gains are, however, vulnerable: shortages of and inequitable access to health workers still thwart many countries’ attempts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and their efforts to scale up their response against noncommunicable diseases and attain universal health coverage.
Universal Health Care (UHC) was defined by the World Health organization in 2005.4 Since then it has gained increased recognition as a framework for embracing va
(Value in Health) - The articles in this special supplement, based on a conference held at Bocconi University in Milan, Italy, earlier this year, remind us that there are large and important policy issues that rely on ‘‘big thinking’’—with less hard evidence—to understand and try to reform what is going on in health systems and health policy. Nonetheless, as we often emphasize to others, decisions will have to be made—with or without good information—and making no decision is itself a choice.
These days we hear a lot about ‘‘big data’’ and how comparative effectiveness research (CER) is going to help us make better decisions (big data refers in the health care context to longitudinal medical claims data for millions of patients linked to their electronic health records ).
(Nature) - Our planet’s staggering ocean of death and disability — from backache to cancer — was painstakingly detailed in the Global Burden of Disease 2010 analysis, filling nearly an entire issue of The Lancet in December. One approach to this overwhelming disease burden is universal health coverage (UHC), which has been broadly defined as universal access to needed health services without financial hardship in paying for them. Indeed, Lancet editor Richard Horton declared the findings to be so far-reaching that “we should use them as a platform to advocate ever more vigorously for the growing consensus that universal health coverage could be the third great global health transition”. But faced with almost limitless need and finite resources, what form of UHC is best? Demand will only rise owing to ageing, growing populations and ever-more-sophisticated and expensive technologies.
(The Hindu Business Line) - Iraq wants to learn from India’s success story in using smart-card technology that delivers health insurance to the poor to reform its public distribution system (PDS) too.
The World Bank has invited Indian Labour Department officials to Istanbul, Turkey, to share their expertise on smart cards used in the national health scheme (Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana) with the Iraqi Government, which is keen to move from a universal PDS to a targeted system.
“The Iraq Government wants to learn how we have used the smart-card technology in our RSBY scheme and how the same cards are now being used by State governments to deliver PDS without leakages,” Additional Secretary in Labour Ministry Anil Swarup told Business Line. Feasible design
In a letter to Swarup, the World Bank said that Iraq had requested the workshop to inform and persuade parliamentarians and high-level policy makers through brainstorming sessions on designing a feasible and credible refo
Understanding the impact of global trade liberalization on health systems pursuing universal health coverage
In the context of reemerging universalistic approaches to health care, the objective of this article was to contribute to the discussion by highlighting the potential influence of global trade liberalization on the balance between health demand and the capacity of health systems pursuing universal health coverage (UHC) to supply adequate health care. Being identified as a defining feature of globalization affecting health, trade liberalization is analyzed as a complex and multidimensional influence on the implementation of UHC. The analysis adopts a systems-thinking approach and refers to the six building blocks of World Health Organization's current "framework for action," emphasizing their interconnectedness.
(Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics & Policy) - There is a growing ideological divide among Indian health researchers and policymakers with respect to the future direction of the country’s health policy. Those in favor of supply-side policies (i.e. the government should provide free or subsidized healthcare) contend that India’s health insurance scheme for the poor (called Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana or RSBY) – among the world’s largest programs of its kind – is akin to an overly expensive white elephant, which brings more pride for the policymakers than actual results. Believers in RSBY consider this criticism to be mere white noise, and argue that demand-side policies such as RSBY have a complementary role to play. In this blog, I examine arguments from both sides of the debate.
The two sides of health policy
Targeted supply-side policymaking has historically been the cornerstone of India’s public healthcare delivery mechanism.