This article was drafted as part of a review of strategies for making progress toward universal health coverage in the countries of Asia and the Pacific. It focuses on strengthening the delivery of services, in the context of population aging. It argues that it is important to take into account big differences in development contexts and also the rapid, interconnected changes that many countries are experiencing. The article focuses especially on countries with relatively undeveloped institutions and pluralistic and highly segmented health sectors. It argues that attempts by these countries to import institutional arrangements from outside are likely to be complicated. It argues that government needs to focus on both short-term measures to meet immediate needs and the longer-term aim of establishing effective institutional arrangements. This means that they need to take into account the political factors that influence the direction of health system change. The article emphasizes the need to strengthen the capacity of the health system to address the growing challenge of chronic noncommunicable diseases to avoid heavy political pressure to expand hospital services. It then explores the opportunities and challenges associated with the rapid expansion of digital health services. It concludes with a discussion of government stewardship and management of health system transformation to address the major challenges associated with population aging.Read More
Filtering by Tag: Gerald Bloom
Innovations for Universal Health Coverage: A South-South Collaboration to Transform Health Systems in Africa and India
The Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI), Amref Health Africa and the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) have agreed to collaborate in an effort to explore ways that technological innovations can contribute to government strategies for making progress towards universal health coverage (UHC). This means substantially increasing access by those whose basic health care needs are not being met. This report presents the outcome of a meeting held in Bengaluru, India. At this meeting, people with direct experience of different aspects of the development, piloting and taking to scale of technological innovations in India and a number of African countries explored the factors that influence this process.Read More
Evaluation and learning in complex, rapidly changing health systems: China’s management of health sector reform
Healthcare systems are increasingly recognised as complex, in which a range of non-linear and emergent behaviours occur. China’s healthcare system is no exception. The hugeness of China, and the variation in conditions in different jurisdictions present very substantial challenges to reformers, and militate against adopting one-size-fits-all policy solutions. As a consequence, approaches to change management in China have frequently emphasised the importance of sub-national experimentation, innovation, and learning. Multiple mechanisms exist within the government structure to allow and encourage flexible implementation of policies, and tailoring of reforms to context. These limit the risk of large-scale policy failures and play a role in exploring new reform directions and potentially systemically-useful practices. They have helped in managing the huge transition that China has undergone from the 1970s onwards. China has historically made use of a number of mechanisms to encourage learning from innovative and emergent policy practices. Policy evaluation is increasingly becoming a tool used to probe emergent practices and inform iterative policy making/refining. This paper examines the case of a central policy research institute whose mandate includes evaluating reforms and providing feedback to the health ministry. Evaluation approaches being used are evolving as Chinese research agencies become increasingly professionalised, and in response to the increasing complexity of reforms. The paper argues that learning from widespread innovation and experimentation is challenging, but necessary for stewardship of large, and rapidly-changing systems.Read More
Integrating Actions to Tackle Antimicrobial Resistance into Strategies to Achieve Universal Health Coverage
It is critical that ensuring people’s access to effective treatment for common infections is aligned with efforts to reduce the risk of emerging antimicrobial resistance. The Institute of Development Studies, a Future Health Systems partner, is influencing policy agendas to give greater focus on the need for the just and sustainable use of antimicrobials.
Introduction: Accountability for Health Equity: Galvanising a Movement for Universal Health Coverage
In July 2017, IDS hosted a workshop on ‘Unpicking Power and Politics for Transformative Change: Towards Accountability for Health Equity’, with the aim of generating dialogue and mutual learning among activists, researchers, policymakers, and funders working towards more equitable health systems and a commitment to Universal Health Coverage (UHC). This issue of the IDS Bulletin is based around three principal themes that emerged from the workshop as needing particular attention. First, the nature of accountability politics ‘in time’ and the cyclical aspects of efforts towards accountability for health equity. Second, the contested politics of ‘naming’ and measuring accountability, and the intersecting dimensions of marginalisation and exclusion that are missing from current debates. Third, the shifting nature of power in global health and new configurations of health actors, social contracts, and the role of technology.For the first time in IDS Bulletin history, themes are explored not only in text but also through a selection of online multimedia content, including a workshop video, a photo story and a documentary. This expansion into other forms of communication is explicitly aimed at galvanising larger numbers of people in a movement towards UHC and the linked agenda of accountability for health equity.The articles and multimedia in this IDS Bulletin reflect the fact that while the desired outcome might be the same – better health for all – accountability strategies are as diverse as the contexts in which they have developed.Read More
A fundamental challenge for health systems is the need to adapt to changes in the patterns of health service need, scientific and technological developments, and the economic and institutional contexts within which providers of health services are embedded. This is especially true of many low and middle-income countries, where the pace of multiple and interconnected changes is breath-taking. This paper introduces the Thematic Issue on Innovation in Health Systems in Low- and Middle-Income Countries.Read More
Achieving universal health coverage (UHC) has become a dominant policy preoccupation within the global health community. For Africa, progress towards UHC involves ambitious goals for expanding access to a range of effective health services, a substantial increase in health expenditure, and establishing a greater reliance on prepayment and pooling mechanisms to finance healthcare. According to one set of calculations, achieving UHC requires countries to spend at least $86 per capita in 2012 dollars on healthcare, and a minimum of 5% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Clearly, expanding the ‘fiscal space for health’ will be key to the success of UHC.Read More
Using Theories of Change to inform implementation of health systems research and innovation: experiences of Future Health Systems consortium partners in Bangladesh, India and Uganda
Paina L, Wilkinson A, Tetui M, Ekirapa-Kiracho E, Barman D, Ahmed T, Mahmood SS, Bloom G, Knezovich J, George A and Bennett S (2017) Using Theories of Change to inform implementation of health systems research and innovation: experiences of Future Health Systems consortium partners in Bangladesh, India and Uganda, Health Research Policy and Systems, 15(Suppl 2):109, DOI: 10.1186/s12961-017-0272-y
The Theory of Change (ToC) is a management and evaluation tool supporting critical thinking in the design, implementation and evaluation of development programmes. We document the experience of Future Health Systems (FHS) Consortium research teams in Bangladesh, India and Uganda with using ToC. We seek to understand how and why ToCs were applied and to clarify how they facilitate the implementation of iterative intervention designs and stakeholder engagement in health systems research and strengthening.
Bloom G, Buckland Merrett G, Wilkinson A, Lin V and Paulin S (2017) Antimicrobial resistance and universal health coverage, BMJ Global Health, 2:e000518, doi:10.1136/bmjgh-2017-000518
The WHO launched a Global Action Plan on antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in 2015. World leaders in the G7, G20 and the UN General Assembly have declared AMR to be a global crisis. World leaders have also adopted universal health coverage (UHC) as a key target under the sustainable development goals. This paper argues that neither initiative is likely to succeed in isolation from the other and that the policy goals should be to both provide access to appropriate antimicrobial treatment and reduce the risk of the emergence and spread of resistance by taking a systems approach.
Bloom G, Berdou E, Standing H, Guo Z and Labrique A (2017) ICTs and the challenge of health system transition in low and middle-income countries, Globalization and Health, 13:56, doi: 10.1186/s12992-017-0276-y
The aim of this paper is to contribute to debates about how governments and other stakeholders can influence the application of ICTs to increase access to safe, effective and affordable treatment of common illnesses, especially by the poor. First, it argues that the health sector is best conceptualized as a ‘knowledge economy’. This supports a broadened view of health service provision that includes formal and informal arrangements for the provision of medical advice and drugs. This is particularly important in countries with a pluralistic health system, with relatively underdeveloped institutional arrangements. It then argues that reframing the health sector as a knowledge economy allows us to circumvent the blind spots associated with donor-driven ICT-interventions and consider more broadly the forces that are driving e-health innovations. It draws on small case studies in Bangladesh and China to illustrate new types of organization and new kinds of relationship between organizations that are emerging. It argues that several factors have impeded the rapid diffusion of ICT innovations at scale including: the limited capacity of innovations to meet health service needs, the time it takes to build new kinds of partnership between public and private actors and participants in the health and communications sectors and the lack of a supportive regulatory environment. It emphasises the need to understand the political economy of the digital health knowledge economy and the new regulatory challenges likely to emerge. It concludes that governments will need to play a more active role to facilitate the diffusion of beneficial ICT innovations at scale and ensure that the overall pattern of health system development meets the needs of the population, including the poor.Read More
Bloom G, Wilkinson A and Buckland Merritt G (2017) Antimicrobial resistance and Universal Health Coverage, In Antimicrobial resistance in the Asia Pacific region: a development agenda (pp. 9-21). Manila, Philippines. World Health Organization Regional Office for the Western Pacific. Licence: CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 IGO.
Chapter two highlights priorities for an integrated approach for addressing AMR by strengthening universal health coverage (UHC). It focuses on the use of drugs in outpatient settings. The chapter gives particular consideration to low- and middle-income countries with pluralistic health systems, where government provision and health markets combine and where people seek treatment for a large proportion of common infections in weakly regulated markets.Read More
Health Systems Research in a Complex and Rapidly Changing Context: Ethical Implications of Major Health Systems Change at Scale
MacGregor H and Bloom G (2016) Health Systems Research in a Complex and Rapidly Changing Context: Ethical Implications of Major Health Systems Change at Scale, Developing World Bioethics, 16(3): 158–167, doi:10.1111/dewb.12115
This paper discusses health policy and systems research in complex and rapidly changing contexts. It focuses on ethical issues at stake for researchers working with government policy makers to provide evidence to inform major health systems change at scale, particularly when the dynamic nature of the context and ongoing challenges to the health system can result in unpredictable outcomes.Read More
Achieving universal health coverage by 2030, as stated in UN Global Goal 3, will require substantial increases in health spending and the proportion funded through taxation or social insurance to make health care affordable for all. Not only will institutions need to be established to ensure sustainable arrangements for social finance, it will also be vital to ensure that health financing is resilient to economic and other shocks if Global Goal 3 is to be realised. This presents a major challenge in Africa, where an economic downturn is projected in a number of resource-dependent countries, such as Mozambique and Guinea Bissau and where countries such as Sierra Leone have weakened health systems. The response to these challenges by governments and development partners, will have important effects on how well people, and the health services on which they rely, cope in the short term and longer-term evolution of health coverage.Read More
Buckland Merrett GL, Bloom G, Wilkinson A and MacGregor H (2016) Towards the just and sustainable use of antibiotics, Journal of Pharmaceutical Policy and Practice, 9:31, DOI: 10.1186/s40545-016-0083-5
The emergence and spread of antibiotic resistant pathogens poses a big challenge to policy-makers, who need to oversee the transformation of health systems that evolved to provide easy access to these drugs into ones that encourage appropriate use of antimicrobials, whilst reducing the risk of resistance. This is a particular challenge for low and middle-income countries with pluralistic health systems where antibiotics are available in a number of different markets. This review paper considers access and use of antibiotics in these countries from a complex adaptive system perspective. It highlights the main areas of intervention that could provide the key to addressing the sustainable long term use and availability of antibiotics.Read More
The effectiveness of antibiotics in treating bacterial infections is decreasing in China because of the widespread development of resistant organisms. Although China has enacted a number of regulations to address this problem, but the impact is very limited. This paper investigates the implementation of these regulations through the lens of complex adaptive systems (CAS).Read More
There is a growing appreciation and recognition of the role of the private sector in the development of better health systems and the improvement of healthcare worldwide.
This Health Policy and Planning supplement reflects contributions to a Symposium of the Health Systems Global Private Sector in Health Thematic Working Group during the 9th World Congress on Health Economics, held in Sydney in July 2013. Members of the PSIH TWG that convened the Symposium included FHS members David Bishai (JHBSPH) and Gerry Bloom (IDS), and was generously supported by Rockefeller, Gates, USAID, AusAid (DFAT), and DFID.Read More
This paper presents a conceptual approach for discussing health information seeking among poor households in Africa and Asia. This approach is part of a larger research endeavor aimed at understanding how health systems are adapting; with possibilities and constraints emerging. These health systems can be found in a context of the changing relationships between states, markets and civil society in low and middle income countries. The paper starts from an understanding of the health sector as a “health knowledge economy”, organized to provide people with access to knowledge and advice. The use of the term “health knowledge economy” draws attention to the ways the health sector is part of a broader knowledge economy changing the way individuals and households obtain and use specialist information. The paper integrates an actor centric approach with the theory of planned behavior. It seeks to identify the actors engaged in the health knowledge economy as a precursor to longer term studies on the uptake of innovations integrating health services with mobile phones, commonly designated as mHealth, contributing to an understanding of the potential vulnerabilities of poor people, and highlighting possible dangers if providers of health information and advice are strongly influenced by interest groups.Read More
There is growing international concern about the threat to public health of the emergence and spread of bacteria resistant to existing antibiotics. An effective response must invest in both the development of new drugs and measures to slow the emergence of resistance. This paper addresses the former. It focuses on low and middle-income countries with pluralistic health systems, where people obtain much of their antibiotics in unorganised markets.Read More
In countries with high levels of poverty or instability and with poor health system management and governance, people are highly vulnerable to shocks associated with ill health, including major epidemics. An effective health system can help build their resilience by reducing exposure to infection and minimising the impact of sickness on livelihoods and economic development.Read More
Advancing the application of systems thinking in health: managing rural China health system development in complex and dynamic contexts
This paper explores the evolution of schemes for rural finance in China as a case study of the long and complex process of health system development. It argues that the evolution of these schemes has been the outcome of the response of a large number of agents to a rapidly changing context and of efforts by the government to influence this adaptation process and achieve public health goals.Read More