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From Bangkok to Mexico: towards a framework for turning knowledge into action to improve health systems [editorial]
Bulletin of the World Health Organization. 2004 Oct; 82(10):720-721.As a follow-up to the International Conference on Health Research for Development that took place in Bangkok, Thailand, in 2000, WHO convened a Ministerial Summit on Health Research to be held in Mexico City in November 2004, to review progress to date and reflect on emerging opportunities in the global field of health research. In 1990, the Commission on Health Research for Development recommended that all countries should undertake essential national health research; it stipulated that international partnerships are the foundations for progress and that financing for these efforts should be mobilized from both international and national sources. In 1996, WHO'S Ad Hoc Committee on Health Research Relating to Future Intervention Options outlined a five-step priority-setting approach to decide how health research funds should be allocated. It identified "best buys" for the development of products and procedures in several key areas, including childhood infections, malnutrition, microbial threats, noncommunicable diseases and health systems. Overall, progress has been slow and there is much more to be done to deal with major health challenges. (excerpt)
BULLETIN OF THE WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION. 1994; 72(4):639-51.The examination of the external assistance to the health sector quantified the sources and recipients of such assistance in 1990 by analyzing time trends for external assistance to the health sector over the preceding two decades, and, by describing the allocation of resources to specific activities in the health sector. The health sector external assistance data were collected through a questionnaire and follow-up visits to all major bilaterals, multilaterals, and large nongovernmental (NGO) agencies. The three major databases on development assistance were also used: the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Development Assistance Committee (DAC) annual tables, the Creditor Reporting System (CRS) from OECD, and the Register of Development Activities of the United Nations system. From 1972 to 1980, there was a sustained increase in external assistance by 14% per year. Beginning in 1986, the pace of increase was lower than in the 1970s but had averaged 7% per year in both bilateral and multilateral agencies. In 1990 in developing countries, health external assistance totaled $4800 million, or only 2.9% of total health expenditures in developing countries. 82% of this sum originated from public coffers in developed countries and 18% from private households. Resources to the health sectors of developing countries included: 40% through bilateral development agencies, 33% through United Nations agencies, and 8% through the World Bank and banks such as the Asian Development Bank. Nongovernmental Organizations (NGOs) accounted for 17%, and 1.5% came from foundations. The USA accounted for 27.5% of all assistance, France for 12.9%, and Japan for 11.5%. One quarter of all health sector assistance was paid for by Sweden, Italy, Germany, and the United Kingdom. The study confirms prior findings that health status variables per se are not related to the amount of aid received. Comparing investments to the burden of disease shows tremendous differences in the funding for different health problems. A number of conditions are comparatively underfinanced, particularly noncommunicable diseases and injuries.
SOUTHERN AFRICA POLITICAL AND ECONOMIC MONTHLY. 1994 Mar; 7(6):14-5.Since the International Monetary Fund/World Bank Economic Structural Adjustment Program (ESAP) in Zimbabwe was adopted in 1990, health care and education costs have escalated, and many people fail to get these services owing to poverty. The post-independence era in Zimbabwe witnessed a tremendous growth in education and health with many schools, colleges, hospitals and clinics built, professional staff employed, and a general expansion in demand. Nevertheless, the question of drug shortages and ever-increasing health care costs were not addressed. A deficient transport network, the increases in drug prices, the exodus of professional staff, the devaluation of the Zimbabwe dollar, and the cost recovery measures endangered the right to acceptable health care. The social service cutbacks adopted by the government in education will deepen poverty. After independence, the Zimbabwean education system had a free tuition policy at primary school levels. Now that the government reintroduced school fees, a generation of illiterate and semi-illiterate school dropouts will grow up. The social implications of this include increases in crime, prostitution, the number of street kids, the spread of diseases, and social discontent, which are the symptoms of a shrinking economy. As a result of the cost recovery measures, school enrollment in rural areas has gone up. Some urban parents have been forced to transfer their children to rural schools. Higher education also suffers, as government subsidies to colleges and universities have been drastically curtailed. The budgetary cuts have grave repercussions for teaching and research, as poor working conditions and low morals of lecturers and students become prevalent. Most wage-earning Zimbabweans' living standards have deteriorated as the cost of living continues to escalate, coupled with the cost recovery measures in the name of ESAP.
AMERICAN JOURNAL OF PUBLIC HEALTH. 1990 Oct; 80(10):1188-92.Health trends since 1950 in both developed and developing countries are classified and discussed in terms of causative factors: socioeconomic development, cross-national influences and growth of national health systems. Despite the vast differences in scale of health statistics between developed and developing countries, economic hardships and high military expenditures, all nations have demonstrated significant declines in life expectancy and infant mortality rates. Social and economic factors that influenced changes included independence from colonial rule in Africa and Asia and emergence from feudalism in China, industrialization, rising gross domestic product per capita and urbanization. An example of economic development is doubling to tripling of commercial energy consumption per capita. Social advancement is evidenced by higher literacy rates, school enrollments and education of women. Cross-national influences that improved overall health include international trade, spread of technology, and the universal acceptance of the idea that health is a human right. National health systems in developing countries are receiving increasing shares of the GNP. Total health expenditure by government is highly correlated with life expectancy. The view of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund that health care should be privatized is a step backward with anti-egalitarian consequences. The UN Economic Commission for Africa attacked the IMF and the World Bank for promoting private sector funding of health care stating that this leads to lower standards of living and poorer health among the disadvantaged. Suggested health strategies for the future should involve effective action in the public sector: adequate financial support of national health systems; political commitment to health as the basis of national security; citizen involvement in policy and planning; curtailing of smoking, alcohol, drugs and violence; elimination of environmental and toxic hazards; and maximum international collaboration.
International Journal of Health Services. 1985; 15(2):275-99.Until the mid 1960s, Latin American health system reflected the skewed distribution of wealth in the region: most health resources were found in curative care medicine and were concentrated in the capital cities, where they primarily served the needs of the elite. For many countries, however, the 1964 Pan American Health Organization's (PAHO) efforts to introduce health planning, intended as a 1st step in rationalizing the health sector, marked a fundamental turning point in the structural development of their delivery systems. Guatemala, however, was and remains an exception. Its technocrats have proven unable to plan effectively; no single entity is responsible for health sector planning, and the 5-year plans have come to consist of disjointed mini-plans, each reflecting the aims, desires and goals of a particular vested interest group or institution. The Guatemalan oligarchy has proven unwilling to appropriate the resources necessary to effect change. The reforms that have been made have been the products of bilateral and multilateral agencies such as the InterAmerican Development Bank, USAID, UNICEF, Kreditanstaldt and PAHO, which have conceptualized, promoted, designed, built and underwritten them. Those changes have not altered the fundamental structure of the system, but instead have been tacked onto it, and exemplify what may be termed additive reform. The government of Guatemala's own commitment to these outside agency funded projects is reflected in the recurrent shortfall of current or operating funds, and in the rapid depreciation of facilities. Evidence suggests that without the continued sponsorship, support, and guidance of the bilateral and multilateral agencies, even these additive reforms will not last.
Washington, D.C., U.S. Office of International Health, Division of Planning and Evaluation, 1976. 92 p. (Syncrisis: the dynamics of health, XVII)This article uses available statistics to analyze health conditions in Bangladesh and their impact on the country's socioeconomic development. Background information on the country is first given, after which population characteristics, health status, nutrition, national health policy and adminstration, health services and programs, population programs, environmental sanitation, health sector resources, financing of health care and donor assistance are examined. Bangladesh's 3% annual population increase is expected to increase already great population pressure and to have a negative impact on the health status of the population. Although reliable health statistics are lacking, infant mortality is estimated at 140 per 1000, 40% of all deaths occur in the 0-4 age group, and maternal mortality is high. Infectious diseases exacerbated by malnutrition are the main causes of death. 4 key factors are responsible for the general malnutrition: 1) rapidly growing population, 2) low per capita income, 3) high incidence of diarrheal diseases, and 4) dietary practices that restrict nutrient intake. Most of the population has access only to traditional health services, and medical education is hospital oriental and curative, with minimal emphasis on public health. The level of environmental sanitation is extremely low.