Rebuilding Health Systems in Post-Conflict Countries: Estimating the Costs of Basic Services
After the fall of the Taliban in 2001, the Afghan transitional government and international donors found the health system near collapse. Afghanistan had some of the worst health indicators ever recorded. To begin activities that would quickly improve the health situation, the Ministry of Health (MOH) needed both a national package of health services and reliable data on the costs of providing those services. This study details the process of determining national health priorities, creating a basic package of services, and estimating per capita and unit costs for providing those services, with an emphasis on the costing exercise. Strategies for obtaining a rapid yet reasonably accurate estimate of health service costs nationwide are discussed. In 2002 this costing exercise indicated that the basic package of services could be provided for US$4.55 per person. In 2006, the findings were validated: the four major donors who contracted with non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to provide basic health services for nearly 80% of the population found per capita costs ranging from $4.30 to $5.12. This study is relevant for other post-conflict countries that are re-establishing health services and seeking to develop cost-effective and equitable health systems.