No. 5 July 2003
COUNTRY ACTION......COUNTRY ACTION...COUNTRY ACTION
Argentina sets up Health Economics and Financing Unit
Argentina is organizing a new Health Economics and Financing Unit which will focus on issues related to macroeconomics and health. This unit may be a starting point for country follow-up work within a long-term plan for health investment.
MHS work in Cambodia
In May 2003, the Royal Government of Cambodia and the WHO Country Office jointly drafted a proposal requesting that a national Commission on Macroeconomics and Health be established and be firmly integrated into the Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper process. An early goal of this body would be to harness the epidemiological evidence gathered thus far and outline the concrete steps needed the strengthen the health system and scale up well-known, effective interventions against the main diseases affecting the poor. Cambodia has recently submitted a budget for MHS activities. Observers feel that once the July national election has passed, MHS development will again proceed with determination.
El Salvador prepares for Commission launch
In May 2003, the Ministry of Health of El Salvador and the Pan American Health Organization organized the first of a series of three Seminars on Macroeconomics and Health. At this seminar participants presented the CMH recommendations, National Health Expenditures of the Latin American region and studies on Health Accounts from El Salvador. A second seminar, which will focus on health, equity and poverty issues, is scheduled for September. These seminars are preparatory activities for the launch of the national Commission on Macroeconomics and Health by the end of 2003.
Moving forward in Ghana
An informal meeting was held in May 2003 to review the MHS process in Ghana. A Technical Working Group investigated performance and outcome gaps in every area of the Ghana Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper implementation, identifying cross-sectoral causes of health system deficiencies. In one notable outcome, the analysis has prompted new policies and strategies that aim to increase the capacity of human resources delivering health services. Current priority objectives include supporting national policies to prepare the health system to optimize uptake of resources and health investments. A major MHS output will be a three-part document containing an Advocacy section, an Analytical section, and a long-term Health Investment Plan. Due for completion in July 2003, this document aims to influence the review of the Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper and the budget process. Ghana will share its experiences in carrying out CMH work at the African Regional CMH meeting in August.
Mexican Commission on Macroeconomics and Health website
Since its inauguration in July 2002, the Mexican Commission on Macroeconomics and Health has scheduled periodic meetings, outlined plans for forward movement of the process and set up a web site to disseminate the Report findings. This site also includes a list of commissioners and will provide updates on the Commission’s activities. For more information please visit: http://www.salud.gob.mx/apps/htdocs/macroeconomia/macroeconomia.php [new window].
Columbia team visits Rwanda
In March 2003, a Macroeconomics and Health team from Columbia University undertook an initial visit to Rwanda at the invitation of the President of Rwanda, the Minister of State, and the Director of the National AIDS Commission. The purpose of the trip was to identify areas in which to deliver effective support to the Rwandan Government and its development partners, especially through the Macroeconomics and Health Strategy (MHS) process.
The MHS process in Rwanda will act to strengthen existing structures, such as the Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper, and will work on a multi-sector plan to enable partners to work synergistically in the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals. A focal point person was selected by each ministry to spearhead work on the MHS, and Columbia will provide an adviser to support these individuals and an envisioned Secretariat for the national task forces. Two particular issues emerged in these initial talks:
- The potential contribution of community health insurance schemes to financing health services delivery and improving access to health care;
- Strategies for enhancing the salary and incentive packages of health professionals in the public sector to enable the scale-up and sustainability of public health programmes.
Sri Lanka gets funding for National Commission on Macroeconomics and Health
Sri Lanka, which recently established a National Commission on Macroeconomics and Health, has received funding for follow-up activities. Short-term objectives include advocacy and preparatory studies on economic costs of selected priority diseases and of a basic health care package for the poor. These studies will form the basis for a ten-year investment plan.
More country updates in the next issue of the MacroHealth Newsletter…