health financing

Screenshot of Heartfile website

When in 1995 entrepreneur Jeff Bezos launched Amazon.com from his garage in Seattle (USA), fewer than 1 in 200 people worldwide had internet access and online shopping was just a year old. Today, Bezos’ innovative website has made Amazon.com the world’s largest online retailer, with $60 billion in annual sales – $170 million a day. Online shoppers see Amazon.com as their primary interface—this is the technology innovation. Amazon.com and its accompanying vast information technology capabilities can predict what we want. It catalogues our searches and purchases, and gives us suggestions of what we want.

A brilliant example of the power of technology innovation – right? Only half right. What we don’t see is actually more profound: it’s the power of partnering technology innovation and systems innovation. If you thought Amazon’s secret sauce was simply the technology innovation, think again. In fact, it’s the systems innovation that makes Amazon work. 

[Systems model: Amazon.com] {Graphic by MSH}Systems model: Amazon.comGraphic by MSH

{Photo credit: MSH staff}Photo credit: MSH staff

Cross-posted with permission from UHC Forward.

I walked into a pediatric unit of a teaching hospital in Nigeria a few years ago to review a patient. On the first bed was a lifeless child. He was brought in dead a few minutes earlier by his parents. His mother, "Bisi", wept uncontrollably. While in tears, she recounted how difficult it was for them to borrow money to get to the hospital. Although they got some money from a chief in the community, the two-year-old baby died before they got to the hospital.

Kunle’s story touched me deeply. Kunle’s case typifies the plight of many poor people in Nigeria and the rest of sub-Saharan Africa: The financial burden of illness makes many families poorer. People are afraid to go to hospitals because they may not be able to afford the cost of the health services they need. They prefer to buy drugs over the counter, or visit a local herbalist, who will charge little or nothing to provide poor health service.

Makasi after two months of tuberculosis treatment. {Photo credit: A. Massimba/MSH.}Photo credit: A. Massimba/MSH.

With less than 1000 days until the Millennium Development Goals expire, the process for setting post-2015 goals continues to ramp up.  We take this opportunity to reflect on the current state of community health systems in low- and middle-income countries and consider how the post-2015 agenda could reshape them—perhaps dramatically.

Community health systems today

Integration moves ahead

Poor and rural communities in low- and middle-income countries are leaving behind the “one clinic, one service” approach. So-called vertical programs, which organized resources according to single health conditions, created a patchwork of health services at the community level. You could get HIV care from one provider, but would have to go down the hall, down the street, or often much farther to get maternal health care or malaria care.

Voice of America Interviews Dr. Stephen Macharia: On Tuberculosis in South Sudan (Audio).Voice of America Interviews Dr. Stephen Macharia: On Tuberculosis in South Sudan (Audio).

On the eve of World Tuberculosis Day, Voice of America interviewed Dr. Stephen Macharia, the TB CARE I country director for South Sudan.

During the interview (transcript, PDF), Dr. Macharia discussed the TB epidemic in South Sudan, TB CARE I project achievements, and the way forward for improving funding for TB services and multi-drug resistant TB (MDR-TB) control in fragile states, like South Sudan.

TB CARE I is a USAID-funded project, led by KNCV TB Foundation with partners, including Management Sciences for Health.

Voice of America, the official external broadcast institution of the United States federal government, produces nearly 1,500 hours of news and programs each week for an estimated global audience of 123 million people.

In recent years, commitments from the government and major donors have led to improved tuberculosis (TB) control in Indonesia, with reductions in both prevalence and incidence. The nation’s economic status has also improved; however, this has caused many donors to reduce their contributions to the nation’s health programs.  Compounding this financial challenge is the rising prevalence of drug resistant strains of TB that further tax the health system with the cost of expensive services and medicines needed to care for these patients.

Management Sciences for Health (MSH) under USAID’s TB CARE I project, is assisting the Ministry of Health’s National TB Program (NTP) to develop ways to increase domestic financing for Indonesia’s TB control initiatives. Possible solutions include: increased contributions from national health insurance and government budgets, corporate social responsibility programs, and improvements in cost-effectiveness and efficiency.

Dr. Jonathan Quick, President and CEO of MSH, tours with Dr. Christian Nzitimira, director of Kibagabaga Hospital in Rwanda. {Photo credit: Jon Jay/MSH.}Photo credit: Jon Jay/MSH.

In a postoperative ward of Kibagabaga Hospital, the district hospital serving Rwanda’s capital city of Kigali, Eric Bizimana sits up in bed. Bizimana, 25, had sought care after severe pain in his right leg forced him to stop work as a barber. He was diagnosed with a bone infection called osteomyelitis. Antibiotics alone couldn’t clear the infection. Without an operation to remove the diseased bone, Eric faced the possibility of losing his leg.

Eric was one of the 40 patients who enter Kibagabaga for surgery every day. In Rwanda’s tiered healthcare delivery system, patients are referred from local health centers up to the district hospital when their conditions require more complex care. Most babies are delivered at health centers, for example, but a woman suffering complications or who was expected to need a C-section would be referred to the district level.

Patients wait in a well-ventilated area outside the TB clinic in Homa Bay, Kenya. {Photo credit: A. Kwiecien and A. Salakaia / MSH.}Photo credit: A. Kwiecien and A. Salakaia / MSH.

The state of tuberculosis (TB) is in a tug-of-war as current challenges threaten to undo past successes. One of the primary hurdles currently facing TB prevention and cure is the emergence of strains that are resistant to at least two of the most effective medicines (rifampicin and isoniazid).

So-called drug-resistant (DR)-TB arises when patients are unable to complete a full-course of appropriate, high quality anti-TB medicines. As compared with the 6 month treatment regimen for drug-sensitive (DS)-TB, DR-TB requires 18-24 months of treatment with medicines that are less effective, can cause sometimes severe side effects, and can cost up to 300 times more.

{Photo credit: Katy Doyle / MSH.}Photo credit: Katy Doyle / MSH.

Stop TB in my lifetime.

This global call to action---the Stop TB Partnership's theme for March 24, World TB Day 2013---is as relevant now as it was over a hundred years ago.

Progress toward reducing the global burden of tuberculosis (TB) has been impressive in recent years: TB mortality has fallen by 41 percent since 1990.

Yet, TB remains one of the world’s leading causes of death, killing more than 1.4 million people per year, including 70,000 children. In 2011, 600,000 people died of TB in Africa alone---including many people with HIV.

Low detection rates, new strains of multidrug resistant TB (MDR-TB), high prevalence of HIV/TB co-infection, and risk of TB among diabetes patients---nearly 10 percent of TB cases are linked to diabetes, add to the challenge of TB control, especially among the poor and most vulnerable.

A Rwandese woman shows her child's community-based health insurance card. {Photo credit: C. T. Ngoc/MSH.}Photo credit: C. T. Ngoc/MSH.

Eugénie, a widow in Rwanda, farms to provide for her children. In January 2012, she had surgery to remove a tumor, a procedure that would have devastated her family economically if she did not have insurance. Rwanda’s health insurance program is the most successful of its kind in sub-Saharan Africa: it supports the health of more than 90 percent of the population, including the most vulnerable, like Eugénie.

Children in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, a community supported by TB CARE I volunteers. {Photo credit: D. Collins/MSH.}Photo credit: D. Collins/MSH.

Each year, as many as 64,000 people die from tuberculosis (TB) in Indonesia. Although the Ministry of Health’s (MOH) National TB Program (NTP) has made great progress over the last few years, the country is still one of twenty-two high TB-burden countries in the world. Indonesia is also one of the twenty-seven countries considered to have a high burden of multi-drug resistant TB (MDR-TB). In 2011, the nation reported 6,100 cases of MDR-TB.

Donor funding has been a major factor in the success of Indonesia’s TB program over the last few years, especially The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (Global Fund) grants.  Indonesia has, however, progressed economically and is now a relatively low priority for Global Fund grants, which are expected to end or reduce significantly by 2015.

Despite Indonesia’s economic growth, the sustainability of the TB program will be a major challenge without support from this critical donor, especially during the funding transition period.

Pages

Subscribe to RSS - health financing