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Looking beyond ‘public’ and ‘private’ in health systems

News

Future Health Systems is a research consortium working to improve access, affordability and quality of health services for the poor. We are a partnership of leading research institutes from across the globe working in a variety of contexts: in low-income countries (Bangladesh, Uganda), middle-income countries (China, India) and fragile states (Afghanistan) to build resilient health systems for the future. After a successful first five-year phase from 2006-2011 (see our success stories), we are entering a new six-year phase of research, funded mainly by UK aid.

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Looking beyond ‘public’ and ‘private’ in health systems

Future Health Systems

Last week three FHS researchers took part in a panel discussion titled “Beyond ‘public’ and ‘private’ in health systems” at the Institute of Development Studies 50th annual conference titled “States, Markets and Society Defining a New Era for Development”.

The panel was chaired by Gerry Bloom of the Institute of Development Studies and included presentations from David Peters of Johns Hopkins University, Lewis Hussain - an Associate Researcher at the Institute of Development Studies working on the FHS programme, and Bruno Meessen of the Institute of Tropical Medicine, Belgium.

The panel explored the changing relationships between government, markets and social organisations in the health systems of low- and middle-income countries. It looked at the realities of the pluralistic systems that have emerged with a wide variety of actors providing health services and drugs in terms of their ownership, level of skill and relationship to the regulatory system. These health markets include a wide spectrum of organisations from transnational corporations to informal drug sellers working outside any regulatory framework. On the demand side, individuals have access to large volumes of information from the mass media and, increasingly, the internet. They have much more choice than in the past, but issues of knowledge asymmetry and the importance of ensuring that services are safe and effective, underline the need for social regulation. Meanwhile, the rapid development of ICTs and low-cost diagnostics is changing the terrain in which the roles of markets, states and civil society are being negotiated.

The presentations focused on strategies for improving the performance of pluralistic health systems in providing access to safe and effective health services and on innovative partnerships that have emerged.

Here you can watch Gerry’s introduction to the session and the three presentations that followed.