Financing of health systems to achieve the health Millennium Development Goals in low-income countries
Author(s)/Editor(s): Fryatt R , Mills A, Nordstrom A
Publisher/Organizer: The Lancet
Publication date: 2010
Concern that underfunded and weak health systems are impeding the achievement of the health Millennium Development Goals in low-income countries led to the creation of a High Level Taskforce on Innovative International Financing for Health Systems in September, 2008. This report summarises the key challenges faced by the Taskforce and its Working Groups. Working Group 1 examined the constraints to scaling up and costs. Challenges included: difficulty in generalisation because of scarce and context-specific health-systems knowledge; no consensus for optimum service-delivery approaches, leading to wide cost differences; no consensus for health benefits; difficulty in quantification of likely efficiency gains; and challenges in quantification of the financing gap owing to uncertainties about financial commitments for health. Working Group 2 reviewed the different innovative mechanisms for raising and channelling funds. Challenges included: variable definitions of innovative finance; small evidence base for many innovative finance mechanisms; insufficient experience in harmonisation of global health initiatives; and inadequate experience in use of international investments to improve maternal, newborn, and child health. The various mechanisms reviewed and finally recommended all had different characteristics, some focusing on specific problems and some on raising resources generally. Contentious issues included the potential role of the private sector, the rights-based approach to health, and the move to results-based aid. The challenges and disagreements that arose during the work of the Taskforce draw attention to the many issues facing decision makers in low-income countries. International donors and recipient governments should work together to improve the evidence base for strengthening health systems, increase long-term commitments, and improve accountability through transparent and inclusive national approaches.