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Policy levers and priority-setting in universal health coverage: a qualitative analysis of healthcare financing agenda setting in Kenya.


ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND:Competing priorities in health systems necessitate difficult choices on which health actions and investments to fund: decisions that are complex, value-based, and highly political. In light of the centrality of universal health coverage (UHC) in driving current health policy, we sought to examine the value interests that influence agenda setting in the country's health financing space. Given the plurality of Kenya's health policy levers, we aimed to examine how the perspectives of stakeholders involved in policy decision-making and implementation shape discussions on health financing within the UHC framework. METHODS:A series of in-depth key informant interviews were conducted at national and county level (n?=?13) between April and May 2018. Final thematic analysis using the Framework Method was conducted to identify similarities and differences amongst stakeholders on the challenges hindering Kenya's achievement of UHC in terms of its the optimisation of health service coverage; expansion of the population that benefits from essential healthcare services; and the minimisation of out-of-pocket costs associated with health-seeking behaviour. RESULTS:Our findings indicate that the perceived lack of strategic leadership from Kenya's national government has led to a lack of agreement on stakeholders' interpretation of what is to be understood by UHC, its contextual values and priorities. We observe material differences between and within policy networks on the country's priorities for population coverage, healthcare service provision, and cost-sharing under the UHC dispensation. In spite of this, we note that progressive universalism is considered as the preferred approach towards UHC in Kenya, with most interviewees prioritising an equity-based approach that prioritises better access to healthcare services and financial risk protection. However, the conflicting priorities of key stakeholders risk derailing progress towards the expansion of access to health services and financial risk protection. CONCLUSIONS:This study adds to existing knowledge of UHC in Kenya by contextualising the competing and evolving priorities that should be taken into consideration as the country strategises over its UHC process. We suggest that clear policy action is required from national government and county governments in order to develop a logical and consistent approach towards UHC in Kenya.

PROVIDER: S-EPMC7059333 | BioStudies |

REPOSITORIES: biostudies

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