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.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>Achieving universal health coverage (UHC) requires health financing reforms (HFR) in many of the countries. HFR are inherently political. The sustainable development goals (SDG) declaration provides a global political commitment context that can influence HFR for UHC at national level. However, how the declaration has influenced HFR discourse at the national level and how ministries of health and other stakeholders are using the declaration to influence reforms towards UHC have not been explored. This review was conducted to provide information and lessons on how SDG declaration can influence health financing reforms for UHC based on countries experiences.<h4>Methods</h4>We conducted a rapid review of literature and followed the preferred reporting items for systematic review and meta-analysis (PRISMA) guideline. We conducted a comprehensive electronic search on Ovid Medline, PubMed, EBSCO, Scopus, Web of Science. In searching the electronic databases, we combined various conceptual terms for "sustainable development goals" and "health financing" using Boolean operators. In addition, we conducted manual searched using google scholar.<h4>Results</h4>Twelve articles satisfied our eligibility criteria. The included articles were analyzed thematically, and the results presented narratively. The SDG declaration has provided an enabling environment for putting in place necessary legislations, reforming health financing organization, and revisions of national health polices to align to the country's commitment on UHC. However, there is limited information on the process; how health ministries and other stakeholders have used SDG declaration to advocate, lobby, and engage various constituencies to support HFR for UHC.<h4>Conclusion</h4>The SDG declaration can be a catalyst for health financing reform, providing reference for necessary legislations and policies for financing UHC. However, to facilitate better cross-country learning on how SDG declaration catalyzes HFR for UHC there, is need to examine the processes of how stakeholders have used the declaration as window of opportunity to accelerate reforms.
Project description:Various investments could help countries deliver on the universal health coverage (UHC) goals set by the global community; community health is a pillar of many national strategies towards UHC. Yet despite resource mobilization towards this end, little is known about the potential costs and value of these investments, as well as how evidence on the same would be used in related decisions. This qualitative study was conducted to understand the use of evidence in policy and financing decisions for large-scale community health programmes in low- and middle-income countries. Through key informant interviews with 43 respondents in countries with community health embedded in national UHC strategies (Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique) and at global institutions, we investigated evidence use in community health financing and policy decision-making, as well as evidentiary needs related to community health data for decision-making. We found that evidence use is limited at all levels, in part due to a perceived lack of high-quality, relevant evidence. This perception stems from two main areas: first, desire for local evidence that reflects the context, and second, much existing economic evidence does not deal with what decision-makers value when it comes to community health systems-i.e. coverage and (to a lesser extent) quality. Beyond the evidence gap, there is limited capacity to assess and use the evidence. Elected officials also face political challenges to disinvestment as well as structural obstacles to evidence use, including the outsized influence of donor priorities. Evaluation data must to speak to decision-maker interests and constraints more directly, alongside financiers of community health providing explicit guidance and support on the role of evidence use in decision-making, empowering national decision-makers. Improved data quality, increased relevance of evidence and capacity for evidence use can drive improved efficiency of financing and evidence-based policymaking.
Project description:INTRODUCTION:In 2011, WHO, the European Union and Luxembourg entered into a collaborative agreement to support policy dialogue for health planning and financing; these were acknowledged as core areas in need of targeted support in countries' quest towards universal health coverage (UHC). Entitled 'Universal Health Coverage Partnership', this intervention is intended to strengthen countries' capacity to develop, negotiate, implement, monitor and evaluate robust and integrated national health policies oriented towards UHC. It is a complex intervention involving a multitude of actors working on a significant number of remarkably diverse activities in different countries. METHODS AND ANALYSIS:The researchers will conduct a realist evaluation to answer the following question: How, in what contexts, and triggering what mechanisms, does the Partnership support policy dialogue for health planning and financing towards UHC? A qualitative multiple case study will be undertaken in Togo, Liberia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Cape Verde, Burkina Faso and Niger. Three steps will be implemented: (1) formulating context-mechanism-outcome explanatory propositions to guide data collection, based on expert knowledge and theoretical literature; (2) collecting empirical data through semistructured interviews with key informants and observations of key events, and analysing data; (3) specifying the intervention theory. ETHICS AND DISSEMINATION:The primary target audiences are WHO and its partner countries; international and national stakeholders involved in or supporting policy dialogues in the health sector, especially in low-income countries; and researchers with interest in UHC, policy dialogue, evaluation research and/or realist evaluation.
Project description:<h4>Introduction</h4>Health financing systems have a key role in achieving universal health coverage (UHC) across the globe. However, little is known about how best to monitor health financing system progress towards UHC, especially in low- and middle-income countries. This is a protocol of a study that will aim to assess health financing system progress towards achieving UHC in Iran.<h4>Methods</h4>An explanatory mixed-method approach will be used in two phases. In the quantitative phase, the performance of the Iranian health financing system will be assessed using a well-established set of indicators to draw on progress over 5-year intervals starting in the year 2000 up to the present. Data will be extracted from the global health expenditure database using a specific form and will be classified in accordance with each indicator. A qualitative phase will then take place considering the Kutzin et al. framework and by using health financing progress matrices. The qualitative phase will consist of two successive stages; first, a descriptive overview on the major health coverage schemes along with key attributes of each scheme. This initial mapping will be the underlying background for the second stage. In the second stage, the matrices comprised of a series of questions and relevant to the core functions of health financing and cross-cutting options will be invested in enhancing the evaluation of the ongoing reforms or policies. In this phase, data will be collected by reviewing national policy documents and in-depth interviews with key informants who will be recruited using purposive sampling. Finally, a policy discussion with key stakeholders will be held in order to review and verify the consistency between the current health financing policy and UHC goals.<h4>Discussion</h4>This study will provide a comprehensive image about the current status of the national health financing system progress towards achieving UHC in Iran. Such assessment will give detailed insight about the performance of the current financing system through identifying encountered challenges. Furthermore, some other defects in the design of the financing system are expected to appear. In all likelihood, the results will be fruitful enough to make informed decisions about interventions and policies in relation to UHC.<h4>Ethics and dissemination</h4>The study protocol has been approved by the Ethics Committee for Research at Tehran University of Medical Sciences. Informed consent will be obtained from all key informants and the data will be collected and transcribed anonymously in order to maintain utmost confidentiality. The results will be disseminated in peer-reviewed journals and presented in national and international conferences and meetings.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Kenya has prioritized the attainment of universal health coverage (UHC) through the expansion of health insurance coverage by the National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF). In 2015, the NHIF introduced reforms in premium contribution rates, benefit packages, and provider payment methods. We examined the influence of these reforms on NHIF's purchasing practices and their implications for strategic purchasing and health system goals of equity, efficiency and quality. METHODS:We conducted an embedded case study with the NHIF as the case and the reforms as embedded units of analysis. We collected data at the national level and in two purposively selected counties through 41 in-depth interviews with health financing stakeholders, facility managers and frontline providers; 4 focus group discussions with 51 NHIF members; and, document reviews. We analysed the data using a Framework approach. RESULTS:The new NHIF reforms were characterized by weak purchasing actions. Firstly, the new premium contribution rates were inadequately communicated and unaffordable for certain citizen groups. Secondly, while the new benefit packages were reported to be based on service needs, preferences and values of the population, they were inadequately communicated and unequally distributed across different citizen groups. In addition, the presence of service delivery infrastructure gaps in public healthcare facilities and the pro-urban and pro-private distribution of contracted health facilities compromised delivery of, and access to, these new services. Lastly, the new provider payment methods and rates were considered inadequate, with delayed payments and weak links to financial accountability mechanisms which compromised their ability to incentivize equity, efficiency and quality of healthcare delivery. CONCLUSION:While NHIF sought to expand population and service coverage and reduce out-of-pocket payments with the new reforms, weaknesses in the reforms' design and implementation limited NHIF's purchasing actions with negative implications for the health system goals of equity, efficiency and quality. For the reforms to accelerate the country's progress towards UHC, policy makers at the NHIF and, national and county government should make deliberate efforts to align the design and implementation of such reforms with strategic purchasing actions that are aimed at improving health system goals.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>All countries face challenging decisions about healthcare coverage. Malawi has committed to achieving Universal Health Coverage (UHC) by 2030, the timeframe set out by the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). As in other low income countries, scarce resources stand in the way of more equitable health access and quality in Malawi. Its health sector is highly dependent on donor contributions, and recent poor governance of government-funded healthcare saw donors withdraw funding, limiting services and resources. The 2017 National Health Plan II and accompanying Health Strategic Plan II identify the importance of improved governance and strategies to achieve more effective cooperation with stakeholders. This study explores health sector stakeholders' perceptions of the challenges to improving governance in Malawi's national health system within the post-2017 context of government attempts to articulate a way forward.<h4>Methods</h4>A qualitative study design was used. Interviews were conducted with 22 representatives of major international and faith-based non-government organisations, civil society organisations, local government and government-funded organisations, and governance bodies operating in Malawi. Open questions were asked about experiences and perceptions of the functioning of the health system and healthcare decision-making. Content relating to healthcare governance was identified in the transcripts and field notes and analysed using inductive content analysis.<h4>Results</h4>Stakeholders view governance challenges as a significant barrier to achieving a more effective and equitable health system. Three categories were identified: accountability (enforceability; answerability; stakeholder-led initiatives); health resource management (healthcare financing; drug supply); influence in decision-making (unequal power; stakeholder engagement).<h4>Conclusions</h4>Health sector stakeholders see serious political, structural, and financial challenges to improving governance in the national health system in Malawi which will impact the government's goal of achieving UHC by 2030. Stakeholders identify the need for improved oversight, implementation, service delivery and social accountability of government-funded service providers to communities. Eighteen months after the introduction of the policy documents, they see little evidence of improved governance and have little or no confidence in the government's ability to deliver UHC. The difficulties stakeholders perceive in relation to building equitable and effective healthcare governance in Malawi have relevance for other resource-limited countries which have also committed to the goal of UHC.
Project description:OBJECTIVE:Community-based initiatives have enormous potential to facilitate the attainment of universal health coverage (UHC) and health system development. Yet key gaps exist and threaten its sustainability in many low-income and middle-income countries. This study is first of its kind (following the launch of the Sustainable Developments Goal [SDG]) and aimed to holistically explore the challenges to achieving UHC through the community-based health planning and service (CHPS) initiative in Ghana. DESIGN:A qualitative study design was adopted to explore the phenomenon. Face-to-face indepth interviews were conducted from April 2017 until February 2018 through purposive and snowball sampling techniques. Data were analysed using inductive and deductive thematic analysis approach. SETTING:Data were gathered at the national level, in addition to the regional, district and subdistrict/local levels of four regions of Ghana. Sampled regions were Central Region, Greater Accra Region, Upper East Region and Volta Region. PARTICIPANTS:In total, 67 participants were interviewed: national level (5), regional levels (11), district levels (9) and local levels (42). Interviewees were mainly stakeholders-people whose actions or inactions actively or passively influence the decision-making, management and implementation of CHPS, including policy makers, managers of CHPS compound and health centres, politicians, academics, health professionals, technocrats, and community health management committee members. RESULTS:Based on our findings, inadequate understanding of CHPS concept, major contextual changes with stalled policy change to meet growing health demands, and changes in political landscape and leadership with changed priorities threaten CHPS sustainability. CONCLUSION:UHC is a political choice which can only be achieved through sustainable and coherent efforts. Along countries' pathways to reach UHC, coordinated involvement of all stakeholders, from community members to international partners, is essential. To achieve UHC within the time frame of SDGs, Ghana has no choice but to improve its national health governance to strengthen the capacity of existing CHPS.
Project description:Universal health coverage (UHC) is important in terms of improving access to quality health care while protecting households from the risk of catastrophic health spending and impoverishment. However, progress to UHC has been hampered by the measures to increase mandatory prepaid funds especially in low- and middle-income countries where there are large populations in the informal sector. Important considerations in expanding coverage to the informal sector should include an exploration of the type of prepayment system that is acceptable to the informal sector and the features of such a design that would encourage prepayment for health care among this population group. The objective of the study was to document the views of informal sector workers regarding different prepayment mechanisms, and critically analyze key design features of a future health system and the policy implications of financing UHC in Kenya.This was part of larger study which involved a mixed-methods approach. The following tools were used to collect data from informal sector workers: focus group discussions [N = 16 (rural = 7; urban = 9)], individual in-depth interviews [N = 26 (rural = 14; urban = 12)] and a questionnaire survey [N = 455(rural = 129; urban = 326)]. Thematic approach was used to analyze qualitative data while Stata v.11 involving mainly descriptive analysis was used in quantitative data. The tools mentioned were used to collect data to meet various objectives of a larger study and what is presented here constitutes a small section of the data generated by these tools.The findings show that informal sector workers in rural and urban areas prefer different prepayment systems for financing UHC. Preference for a non-contributory system of financing UHC was particularly strong in the urban study site (58%). Over 70% in the rural area preferred a contributory mechanism in financing UHC. The main concern for informal sector workers regardless of the overall design of the financing approach to UHC included a poor governance culture especially one that does not punish corruption. Other reasons especially with regard to the contributory financing approach included high premium costs and inability to enforce contributions from informal sector.On average 47% of all study participants, the largest single majority, are in favor of a non-contributory financing mechanism. Strong evidence from existing literature indicates difficulties in implementing social contributions as the primary financing mechanism for UHC in contexts with large informal sector populations. Non-contributory financing should be strongly recommended to policymakers to be the primary financing mechanism and supplemented by social contributions.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>Despite increasing global attention to non-communicable diseases (NCDs) and their incorporation into universal health coverage (UHC), the factors that determine whether and how NCDs are prioritized in national health agendas and integrated into health systems remain poorly understood. Childhood cancer is a leading non-communicable cause of death in children aged 0-14 years worldwide. We investigated the political, social, and economic factors that influence health system priority-setting on childhood cancer care in a range of low- and middle-income countries (LMIC).<h4>Methods and findings</h4>Based on in-depth qualitative case studies, we analyzed the determinants of priority-setting for childhood cancer care in El Salvador, Guatemala, Ghana, India, and the Philippines using a conceptual framework that considers four principal influences on political prioritization: political contexts, actor power, ideas, and issue characteristics. Data for the analysis derived from in-depth interviews (n = 68) with key informants involved in or impacted by childhood cancer policies and programs in participating countries, supplemented by published academic literature and available policy documents. Political priority for childhood cancer varies widely across the countries studied and is most influenced by political context and actor power dynamics. Ghana has placed relatively little national priority on childhood cancer, largely due to competing priorities and a lack of cohesion among stakeholders. In both El Salvador and Guatemala, actor power has played a central role in generating national priority for childhood cancer, where well-organized and -resourced civil society organizations have disrupted legacies of fragmented governance and financing to create priority for childhood cancer care. In India, the role of a uniquely empowered private actor was instrumental in creating political priority and establishing sustained channels of financing for childhood cancer care. In the Philippines, the childhood cancer community has capitalized on a window of opportunity to expand access and reduce disparities in childhood cancer care through the political prioritization of UHC and NCDs in current health system reforms.<h4>Conclusions</h4>The importance of key health system actors in determining the relative political priority for childhood cancer in the countries studied points to actor power as a critical enabler of prioritization in other LMIC. Responsiveness to political contexts-in particular, rhetorical and policy priority placed on NCDs and UHC-will be crucial to efforts to place childhood cancer firmly on national health agendas. National governments must be convinced of the potential for foundational health system strengthening through attention to childhood cancer care, and the presence and capability of networked actors primed to amplify public sector investments and catalyze change on the ground.
Project description:Achieving universal health coverage (UHC) requires health financing systems that provide prepaid pooled resources for key health services without placing undue financial stress on households. Understanding current and future trajectories of health financing is vital for progress towards UHC. We used historical health financing data for 188 countries from 1995 to 2015 to estimate future scenarios of health spending and pooled health spending through to 2040.We extracted historical data on gross domestic product (GDP) and health spending for 188 countries from 1995 to 2015, and projected annual GDP, development assistance for health, and government, out-of-pocket, and prepaid private health spending from 2015 through to 2040 as a reference scenario. These estimates were generated using an ensemble of models that varied key demographic and socioeconomic determinants. We generated better and worse alternative future scenarios based on the global distribution of historic health spending growth rates. Last, we used stochastic frontier analysis to investigate the association between pooled health resources and UHC index, a measure of a country's UHC service coverage. Finally, we estimated future UHC performance and the number of people covered under the three future scenarios.In the reference scenario, global health spending was projected to increase from US$10 trillion (95% uncertainty interval 10 trillion to 10 trillion) in 2015 to $20 trillion (18 trillion to 22 trillion) in 2040. Per capita health spending was projected to increase fastest in upper-middle-income countries, at 4·2% (3·4-5·1) per year, followed by lower-middle-income countries (4·0%, 3·6-4·5) and low-income countries (2·2%, 1·7-2·8). Despite global growth, per capita health spending was projected to range from only $40 (24-65) to $413 (263-668) in 2040 in low-income countries, and from $140 (90-200) to $1699 (711-3423) in lower-middle-income countries. Globally, the share of health spending covered by pooled resources would range widely, from 19·8% (10·3-38·6) in Nigeria to 97·9% (96·4-98·5) in Seychelles. Historical performance on the UHC index was significantly associated with pooled resources per capita. Across the alternative scenarios, we estimate UHC reaching between 5·1 billion (4·9 billion to 5·3 billion) and 5·6 billion (5·3 billion to 5·8 billion) lives in 2030.We chart future scenarios for health spending and its relationship with UHC. Ensuring that all countries have sustainable pooled health resources is crucial to the achievement of UHC.The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.