Autocratisation and universal health coverage: synthetic control study.
ABSTRACT: OBJECTIVE:To assess the relation between autocratisation-substantial decreases in democratic traits (free and fair elections, freedom of civil and political association, and freedom of expression)-and countries' population health outcomes and progress toward universal health coverage (UHC). DESIGN:Synthetic control analysis. SETTING AND COUNTRY SELECTION:Global sample of countries for all years from 1989 to 2019, split into two categories: 17 treatment countries that started autocratising during 2000 to 2010, and 119 control countries that never autocratised from 1989 to 2019. The treatment countries comprised low and middle income nations and represent all world regions except North America and western Europe. A weighted combination of control countries was used to construct synthetic controls for each treatment country. This statistical method is especially well suited to population level studies when random assignment is infeasible and sufficiently similar comparators are not available. The method was originally developed in economics and political science to assess the impact of policies and events, and it is now increasingly used in epidemiology. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES:HIV-free life expectancy at age 5 years, UHC effective coverage index (0-100 point scale), and out-of-pocket spending on health per capita. All outcome variables are for the period 1989 to 2019. RESULTS:Autocratising countries underperformed for all three outcome variables in the 10 years after the onset of autocratisation, despite some improvements in life expectancy, UHC effective coverage index, and out-of-pocket spending on health. On average, HIV-free life expectancy at age 5 years increased by 2.2% (from 64.7 to 66.1 years) during the 10 years after the onset of autocratisation. This study estimated that it would have increased by 3.5% (95% confidence interval 3.3% to 3.6%, P<0.001) (from 64.7 to 66.9 years) in the absence of autocratisation. On average, the UHC effective coverage index increased by 11.9% (from 42.5 to 47.6 points) during the 10 years after the onset of autocratisation. This study estimated that it would have increased by 20.2% (95% confidence interval 19.6% to 21.2%, P<0.001) (from 42.5 to 51.1 points) in the absence of autocratisation. Finally, on average, out-of-pocket spending on health per capita increased by 10.0% (from $4.00 (£3.1; €3.4) to $4.4, log transformed) during the 10 years after the onset of autocratisation. This study estimated that it would have increased by only 4.4% (95% confidence interval 3.9% to 4.6%, P<0.001) (from $4.0 to $4.2, log transformed) in the absence of autocratisation. CONCLUSIONS:Autocratising countries had worse than estimated life expectancy, effective health service coverage, and levels of out-of-pocket spending on health. These results suggest that the noticeable increase in the number of countries that are experiencing democratic erosion in recent years is hindering population health gains and progress toward UHC. Global health institutions will need to adjust their policy recommendations and activities to obtain the best possible results in those countries with a diminishing democratic incentive to provide quality healthcare to populations.
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.
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:BACKGROUND:Previous analyses of democracy and population health have focused on broad measures, such as life expectancy at birth and child and infant mortality, and have shown some contradictory results. We used a panel of data spanning 170 countries to assess the association between democracy and cause-specific mortality and explore the pathways connecting democratic rule to health gains. METHODS:We extracted cause-specific mortality and HIV-free life expectancy estimates from the Global Burden of Diseases, Injuries, and Risk Factors Study 2016 and information on regime type from the Varieties of Democracy project. These data cover 170 countries and 46 years. From the Financing Global Health database, we extracted gross domestic product (GDP) per capita, also covering 46 years, and Development Assistance for Health estimates starting from 1990 and domestic health spending estimates starting from 1995. We used a diverse set of empirical methods-synthetic control, within-country variance decomposition, structural equation models, and fixed-effects regression-which together provide a robust analysis of the association between democratisation and population health. FINDINGS:HIV-free life expectancy at age 15 years improved significantly during the study period (1970-2015) in countries after they transitioned to democracy, on average by 3% after 10 years. Democratic experience explains 22·27% of the variance in mortality within a country from cardiovascular diseases, 16·53% for tuberculosis, and 17·78% for transport injuries, and a smaller percentage for other diseases included in the study. For cardiovascular diseases, transport injuries, cancers, cirrhosis, and other non-communicable diseases, democratic experience explains more of the variation in mortality than GDP. Over the past 20 years, the average country's increase in democratic experience had direct and indirect effects on reducing mortality from cardiovascular disease (-9·64%, 95% CI -6·38 to -12·90), other non-communicable diseases (-9·14%, -4·26 to -14·02), and tuberculosis (-8·93%, -2·08 to -15·77). Increases in a country's democratic experience were not correlated with GDP per capita between 1995 and 2015 (ρ=-0·1036; p=0·1826), but were correlated with declines in mortality from cardiovascular disease (ρ=-0·3873; p<0·0001) and increases in government health spending (ρ=0·4002; p<0·0001). Removal of free and fair elections from the democratic experience variable resulted in loss of association with age-standardised mortality from non-communicable diseases and injuries. INTERPRETATION:When enforced by free and fair elections, democracies are more likely than autocracies to lead to health gains for causes of mortality (eg, cardiovascular diseases and transport injuries) that have not been heavily targeted by foreign aid and require health-care delivery infrastructure. International health agencies and donors might increasingly need to consider the implications of regime type in their efforts to maximise health gains, particularly in the context of ageing populations and the growing burden of non-communicable diseases. FUNDING:Bloomberg Philanthropies and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Project description:Applying a robust human rights framework would change thinking and decision-making in efforts to achieve Universal Health Coverage (UHC), and advance efforts to promote women's, children's, and adolescents' health in East Africa, which is a priority under the Sustainable Development Agenda. Nevertheless, there is a gap between global rhetoric of human rights and ongoing health reform efforts. This debate article seeks to fill part of that gap by setting out principles of human rights-based approaches (HRBAs), and then applying those principles to questions that countries undertaking efforts toward UHC and promoting women's, children's and adolescents' health, will need to face, focusing in particular on ensuring enabling legal and policy frameworks, establishing fair financing; priority-setting processes, and meaningful oversight and accountability mechanisms. In a region where democratic institutions are notoriously weak, we argue that the explicit application of a meaningful human rights framework could enhance equity, participation and accountability, and in turn the democratic legitimacy of health reform initiatives being undertaken in the region.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Primary health care (PHC) is a driving force for advancing towards universal health coverage (UHC). PHC-oriented health systems bring enormous benefits but require substantial financial investments. Here, we aim to present measures for PHC investments and project the associated resource needs. METHODS:This modelling study analysed data from 67 low-income and middle-income countries (LMICs). Recognising the variation in PHC services among countries, we propose three measures for PHC, with different scope for included interventions and system strengthening. Measure 1 is centred on public health interventions and outpatient care; measure 2 adds general inpatient care; and measure 3 further adds cross-sectoral activities. Cost components included in each measure were based on the Declaration of Astana, informed by work delineating PHC within health accounts, and finalised through an expert and country validation meeting. We extracted the subset of PHC costs for each measure from WHO's Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) price tag for the 67 LMICs, and projected the associated health impact. Estimates of financial resource need, health workforce, and outpatient visits are presented as PHC investment guide posts for LMICs. FINDINGS:An estimated additional US$200-328 billion per year is required for the various measures of PHC from 2020 to 2030. For measure 1, an additional $32 is needed per capita across the countries. Needs are greatest in low-income countries where PHC spending per capita needs to increase from $25 to $65. Overall health workforces would need to increase from 5·6 workers per 1000 population to 6·7 per 1000 population, delivering an average of 5·9 outpatient visits per capita per year. Increasing coverage of PHC interventions would avert an estimated 60·1 million deaths and increase average life expectancy by 3·7 years. By 2030, these incremental PHC costs would be about 3·3% of projected gross domestic product (GDP; median 1·7%, range 0·1-20·2). In a business-as-usual financing scenario, 25 of 67 countries will have funding gaps in 2030. If funding for PHC was increased by 1-2% of GDP across all countries, as few as 16 countries would see a funding gap by 2030. INTERPRETATION:The resources required to strengthen PHC vary across countries, depending on demographic trends, disease burden, and health system capacity. The proposed PHC investment guide posts advance discussions around the budgetary implications of strengthening PHC, including relevant system investment needs and achievable health outcomes. Preliminary findings suggest that low-income and lower-middle-income countries would need to at least double current spending on PHC to strengthen their systems and universally provide essential PHC services. Investing in PHC will bring substantial health benefits and build human capital. At country level, PHC interventions need to be explicitly identified, and plans should be made for how to most appropriately reorient the health system towards PHC as a key lever towards achieving UHC and the health-related SDGs. FUNDING:The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Project description:HIGHLIGHTS Since the geopolitical developments of 1989, former centrally planned economies of Eastern Europe followed distinctively different pathways in national pharmaceutical expenditure evolution as compared to their free market Western European counterparts.Long term spending on pharmaceuticals expressed as percentage of total health expenditure was falling in free market economies as of 1989. Back in early 1990s it was at higher levels in transitional Eastern European countries and actually continued to grow further.Public financing share of total pharmaceutical expenditure was steadily falling in most Central and Eastern European countries over the recent few decades. Opposed scenario were EU-15 countries which successfully increased their public funding of prescription medicines for the sake of their citizens.Pace of annual increase in per capita spending on medicines in PPP terms, was at least 20% faster in Eastern Europe compared to their Western counterparts. During the same years, CEE region was expanding their pharmaceuticals share of health spending in eight fold faster annual rate compared to the EU 15.Private and out-of-pocket expenditure became dominant in former socialist countries. Affordability issues coupled with growing income inequality in transitional economies will present a serious challenge to equitable provision and sustainable financing of pharmaceuticals in the long run.
Project description:OBJECTIVES:In countries with universal health coverage (UHC), national public health insurances cover 70% of health expenditures on average, but health care user fees and out-of-pocket expenditures have been neglected in empirical patient-centered health inequality research. This study is the first to investigate how health care-related factors are associated with health status among middle-aged and elderly people-vulnerable groups for the burden of illness-in countries with UHC. DESIGN:Longitudinal observational cohort study. SETTING:Population-based cohort Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe (SHARE) in twelve countries with UHC. PARTICIPANTS:Non-institutionalized people aged 50 and older (n = 29,260). Two subsamples were also used: participants without global activity limitation at baseline (n = 16,879) and participants without depression at baseline (n = 21,178). MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES:Risk of death, risk of global activity limitations, and risk of depression. We used mixed-effects Cox proportional hazards regressions to estimate hazard ratios (HR) for all-cause mortality, physical limitations, and depression. RESULTS:Having a voluntary private insurance to cover health expenses not included in the public health care system (44.1% of the total sample) was a protective factor for all outcomes (HR?0.91), controlling for a large range of socio-economic variables. On the contrary, having out-of-pocket expenditures (62.4%) was a risk factor (HR?1.12). CONCLUSIONS:UHC systems are not free from health inequalities: there is a potential effect of lack of voluntary private insurance and out-of-pocket expenditures on mortality and health. Health care-related factors should be at focus in future researches designed to understand and address health inequalities. Reducing out-of-pocket expenditures and developing voluntary private insurance may protect against premature illness and death.
Project description:Universal health coverage (UHC) aims to ensure that all people have access to health services including essential medicines without risking financial hardship. Yet, in many low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) inadequate UHC fails to ensure universal access to medicines and protect the poor and vulnerable against catastrophic spending in the event of illness. A human rights approach to essential medicines in national UHC legislation could remedy these inequities. This study identifies and compares legal texts from national UHC legislation that promote universal access to medicines in the legislation of 16 mostly LMICs: Algeria, Chile, Colombia, Ghana, Indonesia, Jordan, Mexico, Morocco, Nigeria, Philippines, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania, Turkey, Tunisia and Uruguay. The assessment tool was developed based on WHO's policy guidelines for essential medicines and international human rights law; it consists of 12 principles in three domains: legal rights and obligations, good governance, and technical implementation. Relevant legislation was identified, mapped, collected and independently assessed by multi-disciplinary, multi-lingual teams. Legal rights and State obligations toward medicines are frequently codified in UHC law, while most good governance principles are less common. Some technical implementation principles are frequently embedded in national UHC law (i.e. pooled user contributions and financial coverage for the vulnerable), while others are infrequent (i.e. sufficient government financing) to almost absent (i.e. seeking international assistance and cooperation). Generally, upper-middle and high-income countries tended to embed explicit rights and obligations with clear boundaries, and universal mechanisms for accountability and redress in domestic law while less affluent countries took different approaches. This research presents national law makers with both a checklist and a wish list for legal reform for access to medicines, as well as examples of legal texts. It may support goal 7 of the WHO Medicines & Health Products Strategic Programme 2016-30 to develop model legislation for medicines reimbursement.
Project description:INTRODUCTION:Despite widespread gains toward the 5th Millennium Development Goal (MDG), pro-rich inequalities in reproductive health (RH) and maternal health (MH) are pervasive throughout the world. As countries enter the post-MDG era and strive toward UHC, it will be important to monitor the extent to which countries are achieving equity of RH and MH service coverage. This study explores how equity of service coverage differs across countries, and explores what policy factors are associated with a country's progress, or lack thereof, toward more equitable RH and MH service coverage. METHODS:We used RH and MH service coverage data from Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS) for 74 countries to examine trends in equity between countries and over time from 1990 to 2014. We examined trends in both relative and absolute equity, and measured relative equity using a concentration index of coverage data grouped by wealth quintile. Through multivariate analysis we examined the relative importance of policy factors, such as political commitment to health, governance, and the level of prepayment, in determining countries' progress toward greater equity in RH and MH service coverage. RESULTS:Relative equity for the coverage of RH and MH services has continually increased across all countries over the past quarter century; however, inequities in coverage persist, in some countries more than others. Multivariate analysis shows that higher education and greater political commitment (measured as the share of government spending allocated to health) were significantly associated with higher equity of service coverage. Neither country income, i.e., GDP per capita, nor better governance were significantly associated with equity. CONCLUSION:Equity in RH and MH service coverage has improved but varies considerably across countries and over time. Even among the subset of countries that are close to achieving the MDGs, progress made on equity varies considerably across countries. Enduring disparities in access and outcomes underpin mounting support for targeted reforms within the broader context of universal health coverage (UHC).
Project description:A central pillar of universal health coverage (UHC) is to achieve financial protection from catastrophic health expenditure. There are concerns, however, that national health insurance programmes with premiums may not benefit impoverished groups. In 2003, Ghana became the first sub-Saharan African country to introduce a National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) with progressively structured premium charges. In this study, we test the impact of being insured on utilization and financial risk protection compared with no enrolment, using the 2012-13 Ghana Living Standards Survey (n?=?72 372). Consistent with previous studies, we observed that participating in health insurance significantly decreased the probability of unmet medical needs by 15 percentage points (p.p.) and that of incurring catastrophic out-of-pocket (OOP) health payments by 7 p.p. relative to no enrolment in the NHIS. Households living outside a 1-h radius to the nearest hospital had lower reductions in financial risk from excess OOP medical spending relative to households living closer (-5 p.p. vs -9 p.p.). We also find evidence that in Ghana, the scheme was highly pro-poor. Once insured, the poorest 40% of households experienced significantly larger improvements in medical utilization (18 p.p. vs. 8 p.p.) and substantively larger reductions in catastrophic OOP health expenditure (-10 p.p. vs. -6 p.p.) compared with that of the richest households. However, health insurance did not benefit vulnerable persons equally from financial risk. Once insured, poor, low-educated and self-employed households living far from hospitals had significantly lower reductions in catastrophic OOP medical spending compared with their counterparts living closer. Taken together, we show that enrolment in the NHIS is associated with improved financial protection but less so among geographically remote vulnerable groups. Efforts to boost not just insurance uptake but also health service delivery may be needed as a supplement for insurance schemes to accelerate progress towards UHC.