Primary care based management of long-term conditions (LTCs) is high on the international healthcare agenda, including the Asia-Pacific region. Hong Kong has a 'mixed economy' healthcare system with both public and private sectors with a range of types of primary care doctors. Recent Hong Kong Government policy aims to enhance the management of LTCs in primary care possibly based on a 'family doctor' model. Patients' views on this are not well documented and the aim of the present study was to explore the views of patients with LTCs on family doctors in Hong Kong.
The views of patients (with a variety of LTCs) on family doctors in Hong Kong were explored. Two groups of participants were interviewed; a) those who considered themselves as having a family doctor, b) those who considered themselves as not having a family doctor (either with a regular primary care doctor but not a family doctor or with no regular primary care doctor). In-depth individual semi-structured interviews were carried out with 28 participants (10 with a family doctor, 10 with a regular doctor, and 8 with no regular doctor) and analysed using the constant comparative method.
Participants who did not have a family doctor were familiar with the concept but regarded it as a 'luxury item' for the rich within the private healthcare system. Those with a regular family doctor (all private) regarded having one as important to their and their family's health. Participants in both groups felt that as well as the more usual family medicine specialist or general practitioner, traditional Chinese medicine practitioners also had the potential to be family doctors. However most participants attended the public healthcare system for management of their LTCs whether they had a family doctor or not. Cost, perceived need, quality, trust, and choice were all barriers to the use of family doctors for the management of their LTCs.
Important barriers to the adoption of a 'family doctor' model of management of LTCs exist in Hong Kong. Effective policy implementation seems unlikely unless these complex barriers are addressed.
One approach to delivering healthcare in developing countries is through voucher programs, where vouchers are distributed to a specific population for free or subsidized health care. Recent evaluations suggest that vouchers have the potential to extend coverage of priority health services to the poor in developing countries. In Cambodia, a reproductive health voucher program was implemented in January 2011. This study aims to explore women’s early experiences accessing health services with their vouchers at accredited clinics.
This qualitative exploratory study used focus group methodology to gather information from five groups of older (>25 years) and four groups of younger (18–25 years) women who were eligible for the voucher program in three rural provinces. Focus groups were digitally recorded, transcribed and translated from Khmer into English. Data analysis was an iterative process, which comprised of open coding to find commonalities that reflected categories or themes and axial coding to relate initial themes to each other. Next, a basic framework for analysis was formed by integrating the themes into the framework.
Two overarching themes were identified in the data: 1) factors that facilitate voucher use and 2) factors that inhibit voucher use. Within each of these themes, three subthemes were identified: 1) pre-existing factors, 2) distribution factors, and 3) redemption factors. Overall, women expressed positive feelings towards the voucher program, while several areas for program improvement were identified including the importance of addressing pre-existing demand-side barriers to using reproductive health services, the need for more comprehensive counselling during voucher distribution, and the persistent cost of unofficial payments expected by midwives after delivery irrespective of voucher use.
Early information from program beneficiaries can lead to timely and responsive changes that can help to maximize program success. This study highlights the importance of tailoring voucher programs to specific community needs, a strategy that can lead to better program uptake.
In 1997 Hong Kong reunified with China and the development of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) started with this change in national identity. However, the two latest discussion papers on Hong Kong's healthcare reform have failed to mention the role of TCM in primary healthcare, despite TCM's public popularity and its potential in tackling the chronic non-communicable disease (NCD) challenge in the ageing population. This study aims to describe the interrelationship between age, non-communicable disease (NCD) status, and the choice of TCM and western medicine (WM) services in the Hong Kong population.
This study is a secondary analysis of the Thematic Household Survey (THS) 2005 dataset. The THS is a Hong Kong population representative face to face survey was conducted by the Hong Kong Administrative Region Government of China. A random sample of respondents aged >15 years were invited to report their use of TCM and WM in the past year, together with other health and demographic information. A total of 33,263 persons were interviewed (response rate 79.2%).
Amongst those who received outpatient services in the past year (n = 18,087), 80.23% only visited WM doctors, 3.17% consulted TCM practitioners solely, and 16.60% used both type of services (double consulters). Compared to those who only consulted WM doctor, multinomial logistic regression showed that double consulters were more likely to be older, female, NCD patients, and have higher socioeconomic backgrounds. Further analysis showed that the association between age and double consulting was curvilinear (inverted U shaped) regardless of NCD status. Middle aged (45-60 years) NCD patients, and the NCD free "young old" group (60-75 years) were most likely to double consult. On the other hand, the relationship between age and use of TCM as an alternative to WM was linear regardless of NCD status. The NCD free segment of the population was more inclined to use TCM alone as they become older.
In Hong Kong, most patients have chosen WM provided in the public sector as their sole outpatient service provider for NCD. Amongst TCM service users, middle aged NCD patients are more likely to choose both TCM and WM outpatient services. Meanwhile, older people without NCD are more likely to use TCM as their main form of care, but the size of this population group is small. These utilization patterns show that patients choose both modalities to manage their NCD and TCM should be considered within policies for supporting patients with NCD under the wider primary health and social care system that supports patient choice.
In the past decade there has been increasing visibility of malaria control efforts at the national and international levels. The factors that have enhanced this scenario are the availability of proven interventions such as artemisinin-based combination therapy, the wide scale use of insecticide-treated nets (ITNs) and a renewed emphasis in indoor residual house-spraying. Concurrently, there has been a window of opportunity of financial commitments from organizations such as the Global Fund for HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (GFATM), the President's Malaria Initiative and the World Bank Booster programme.
The case study uses the health policy analysis framework to analyse the implementation of a public-private partnership approach embarked upon by the government of Tanzania in malaria control – 'The Tanzania National Voucher Scheme'- and in this synthesis, emphasis is on the challenges faced by the scheme during the pre-implementation (2001 – 2004) and implementation phases (2004 – 2005). Qualitative research tools used include: document review, interview with key informants, stakeholder's analysis, force-field analysis, time line of events, policy characteristic analysis and focus group discussions. The study is also complemented by a cross-sectional survey, which was conducted at the Rufiji Health Demographic Surveillance Site, where a cohort of women of child-bearing age were followed up regarding access and use of ITNs.
The major challenges observed include: the re-introduction of taxes on mosquito nets and related products, procurement and tendering procedures in the implementation of the GFATM, and organizational arrangements and free delivery of mosquito nets through a Presidential initiative.
The lessons gleaned from this synthesis include: (a) the consistency of the stakeholders with a common vision, was an important strength in overcoming obstacles, (b) senior politicians often steered the policy agenda when the policy in question was a 'crisis event', the stakes and the visibility were high, (c) national stakeholders in policy making have an advantage in strengthening alliances with international organizations, where the latter can become extremely influential in solving bottlenecks as the need arises, and (d) conflict can be turned into an opportunity, for example the Presidential initiative has inadvertently provided Tanzania with important lessons in the organization of 'catch-up' campaigns.
The Medicare program, the largest health insurance program in the United States, is clearly at a crossroads as it enters its third decade. Historical increases in health care expenditures, plus a changing political and economic landscape, have set the groundwork for policy reform. Two basic reform strategies--reimbursement arrangements and program funding mechanisms--are discussed. In 1983, Congress enacted the Prospective Payment System (PPS) which initiated a fundamental change in the way hospitals are paid for care delivered to Medicare beneficiaries. But the PPS is only a stepping-stone to broader reforms such as capitation and vouchers. In addition, new methods of program funding may be necessary, especially in light of policymakers' considerations of coverage of services such as long term care and organ transplants.
In many developing countries, the maternal mortality ratio remains high with huge poor-rich inequalities. Programmes aimed at improving maternal health and preventing maternal mortality often fail to reach poor women. Vouchers in health and Health Equity Funds (HEFs) constitute a financial mechanism to improve access to priority health services for the poor. We assess their effectiveness in improving access to skilled birth attendants for poor women in three rural health districts in Cambodia and draw lessons for further improvement and scaling-up.
Data on utilisation of voucher and HEF schemes and on deliveries in public health facilities between 2006 and 2008 were extracted from the available database, reports and the routine health information system. Qualitative data were collected through focus group discussions and key informant interviews. We examined the trend of facility deliveries between 2006 and 2008 in the three health districts and compared this with the situation in other rural districts without voucher and HEF schemes. An operational analysis of the voucher scheme was carried out to assess its effectiveness at different stages of operation.
Facility deliveries increased sharply from 16.3% of the expected number of births in 2006 to 44.9% in 2008 after the introduction of voucher and HEF schemes, not only for voucher and HEF beneficiaries, but also for self-paid deliveries. The increase was much more substantial than in comparable districts lacking voucher and HEF schemes. In 2008, voucher and HEF beneficiaries accounted for 40.6% of the expected number of births among the poor. We also outline several limitations of the voucher scheme.
Vouchers plus HEFs, if carefully designed and implemented, have a strong potential for reducing financial barriers and hence improving access to skilled birth attendants for poor women. To achieve their full potential, vouchers and HEFs require other interventions to ensure the supply of sufficient quality maternity services and to address other non-financial barriers to demand. If these conditions are met, voucher and HEF schemes can be further scaled up under close monitoring and evaluation.
Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, and Malaysia are initiating health care reform to meet the changing demands of populations with improved socioeconomic status and access to modern technologies and who are living longer than in previous generations. Hong Kong, in particular, is facing a unique set of circumstances as its people prepare for the transition in 1997 from a British colony to a Special Administrative Region of China. While spending only 4% of its gross domestic product on health care, it has a large and regulated public hospital system for most inpatient medical care and a separate, loosely regulated private health care system for most outpatient medical care. In 1993 the Secretary for Health and Welfare of Hong Kong initiated a year-long process to debate the pros and cons of 5 fundamental programs for health care reform. After a year of open consultation, options were chosen. We describe the Hong Kong health care system, the fundamental changes that have been adopted, and lessons for reformers in the United States.
Background: The prevalence of vision impairment, unilateral/bilateral blindness, and cataract surgery were estimated in a population based survey among the elderly in a suburban area of Hong Kong.
Methods: 15 public, private, and home ownership scheme housing estates in the Shatin area of Hong Kong were subjected to cluster sampling to randomly select a cross section of people 60 years of age or older. Visual acuity measurements and ocular examinations were conducted at a community site within each estate. The principal cause of reduced vision was identified for eyes with presenting visual acuity worse than 6/18.
Results: A total of 3441 subjects from an enumerated population of 4487 (76.7%) completed an eye examination. The prevalence of presenting visual acuity less than 6/18 in at least one eye was 41.3%; and 73.1% in those 80 years of age or older. Unilateral blindness (acuity <6/60) was found in 7.9% of subjects and bilateral blindness in 1.8%. Refractive error and cataract were, respectively, the main causes of vision impairment and blindness. Visual impairment with either eye <6/18 increased with advancing age and was more prevalent in males, the less educated, and those living in public housing estates. The prevalence of cataract surgery was 9.1% and was associated with advancing age and less education.
Conclusions: Blindness and visual disability were common in this socioeconomically advanced population, with most of it easily remedied. Because of a rapidly ageing population, healthcare planners in Hong Kong must prepare for an increasing burden of visual disability and blindness.
visual impairment; cataract surgery; epidemiology; Hong Kong
A study of private-sector immunization services was undertaken to assess scope of practice and quality of care and to identify opportunities for the development of models of collaboration between the public and the private health sector. A questionnaire survey was conducted with health providers at 127 private facilities; clinical practices were directly observed; and a policy forum was held for government representatives, private healthcare providers, and international partners. In terms of prevalence of private-sector provision of immunization services, 93% of the private inpatient clinics surveyed provided immunization services. The private sector demonstrated a lack of quality of care and management in terms of health workers’ knowledge of immunization schedules, waste and vaccine management practices, and exchange of health information with the public sector. Policy and operational guidelines are required for private-sector immunization practices that address critical subject areas, such as setting of standards, capacity-building, public-sector monitoring, and exchange of health information between the public and the private sector. Such public/private collaborations will keep pace with the trends towards the development of private-sector provision of health services in developing countries.
Evaluation studies; Health services; Health-sector reforms; Health systems; Immunization; Private sector; Quality of care; Standards; Cambodia
In Finland, dental services are provided by a public (PDS) and a private sector. In the past, children, young adults and special needs groups were entitled to care and treatment from the public dental services (PDS). A major reform in 2001 – 2002 opened the PDS and extended subsidies for private dental services to all adults. It aimed to increase equity by improving adults' access to oral health care and reducing cost barriers. The aim of this study was to assess the impacts of the reform on the utilization of publicly funded and private dental services, numbers and distribution of personnel and costs in 2000 and in 2004, before and after the oral health care reform. An evaluation was made of how the health political goals of the reform: integrating oral health care into general health care, improving adults' access to care and lowering cost barriers had been fulfilled during the study period.
National registers were used as data sources for the study. Use of dental services, personnel resources and costs in 2000 (before the reform) and in 2004 (after the reform) were compared.
In 2000, when access to publicly subsidised dental services was restricted to those born in 1956 or later, every third adult used the PDS or subsidised private services. By 2004, when subsidies had been extended to the whole adult population, this increased to almost every second adult. The PDS reported having seen 118 076 more adult patients in 2004 than in 2000. The private sector had the same number of patients but 542 656 of them had not previously been entitled to partial reimbursement of fees.
The use of both public and subsidised private services increased most in big cities and urban municipalities where access to the PDS had been poor and the number of private practitioners was high. The PDS employed more dentists (6.5%) and the number of private practitioners fell by 6.9%. The total dental care expenditure (PDS plus private) increased by 21% during the study period. Private patients who had previously not been entitled to reimbursements seemed to gain most from the reform.
The results of this study indicate that implementation of a substantial reform, that changes the traditionally defined tasks of the public and private sectors in an established oral health care provision system, proceeds slowly, is expensive and probably requires more stringent steering than was the case in Finland 2001 – 2004. However, the equity and fairness of the oral health care provision system improved and access to services and cost-sharing improved slightly.
The insulation of Canada’s healthcare system from trade treaty obligations is crucial to the legitimacy of Canada’s trade policy. Legal analysis has suggested, however, that competitive and for-profit delivery of the kind contemplated by the Kirby Report and some provinces may make healthcare more vulnerable to challenges under NAFTA and GATS. The Government of Canada has tried to counter this interpretation by stressing the importance of public financing as the principal criterion for exemption of healthcare from trade treaties, but now the potential for private financing of essential medical services indicated by the Supreme Court’s decision in Chaoulli v. Quebec has made that line of argument look risky as well. It is apparent that Canada failed to anticipate the possible interactions of domestic, international and constitutional law when it made commitments in the area of private health insurance at the WTO in 1997. Accordingly, the time has come to acknowledge the fragility of the boundary between health and trade policies, to take the risks and costs associated with trade treaty obligations fully into account when undertaking healthcare reform and to strengthen the separation between private and public health insurance.
Since the mid-1970s, the dominant model for U.S. federal housing policy has shifted from unit-based programs to tenant based vouchers and certificates, intended to allow recipients a choice in their housing and neighborhoods. Surprisingly little research has examined the question of where those with Section 8 housing vouchers are able to live, but some research suggests that voucher holders are more likely to reside in distressed neighborhoods than unsubsidized renter households. Further, federal housing policy has limited drug users' access to housing subsidies. In turn, neighborhood disorder has been associated with higher levels of injection drug risk behaviors, and higher drug-related mortality. This paper explores rental accessibility and neighborhood characteristics of advertised rental housing in Hartford CT.
Brief telephone interviews were conducted with landlords or management companies with units to rent in Hartford to explore housing accessibility measured as initial move in costs, credit and criminal background checks, and whether rental subsidies were accepted. These data were supplemented with in-depth interviews with landlords, shelter staff and active users of heroin, crack or cocaine. Apartments for rent were geocoded and mapped using ArcGIS. We used location quotients to identify areas where low-income rental housing is concentrated. Finally, we mapped apartments in relation to drug and violent arrest rates in each neighborhood.
High security deposits, criminal background and credit checks limit housing accessibility even for drug users receiving vouchers. While most landlords or management companies accepted housing subsidies, several did not. Voucher units are concentrated in neighborhoods with high poverty neighborhoods. Landlords reported little incentive to accept rental subsidies in neighborhoods with low crime rates, but appreciated the guarantee provided by Section 8 in high crime neighborhoods that were less likely to attract applicants with good jobs and credit.
Housing vouchers in themselves do not greatly improve recipients' choice of neighborhood and voucher units are concentrated in the most distressed neighborhoods. Policy changes are needed to increase landlords' incentives to accept housing subsidies. Interventions to improve neighborhood conditions are needed to improve the probability of success for those recovering from drug addictions.
The main goal of Hong Kong's publicly-funded general outpatient clinics (GOPCs) is to provide primary medical services for the financially vulnerable. The objective of the current study was to compare the primary care experiences of GOPC users and the users of care provided by private general practitioners (GPs) in Hong Kong via a territory-wide telephone survey.
One thousand adults in Hong Kong aged 18 and above were interviewed by a telephone survey. The modified Chinese translated Primary Care Assessment Tool was used to collect data on respondents' primary care experience.
Our results indicated that services provided by GOPC were more often used by female, older, poorer, chronically-ill and less educated population. GOPC participants were also more likely to have visited a specialist or used specialist services (69.7% vs. 52.0%; p < 0.001), although this difference in utilization of specialist services disappeared after adjusting for age (55.7% vs. 52.0%, p = 0.198). Analyses were also performed to asses the relationship between healthcare settings (GOPCs versus private GPs) and primary care quality. Private GP patients achieved higher overall PCAT scores largely due to better accessibility (Mean: 6.88 vs. 8.41, p < 0.001) and person-focused care (Mean: 8.37 vs. 11.69, p < 0.001).
Our results showed that patients primarily receiving care from private GPs in Hong Kong reported better primary care experiences than those primarily receiving care from GOPCs. This was largely due to the greater accessibility and better interpersonal relationships offered by the private GPs. As most patients use both GOPCs and private GPs, their overall primary care experiences may not be as different as the findings of this study imply.
In Bangladesh, private healthcare is common and popular, regardless of income or area of residence, making the private sector an important player in health service provision. Although the private sector offers a good range of health services, tuberculosis (TB) care in the private sector is poor. We conducted research in Dhaka, between 2004 and 2008, to develop and evaluate a public–private partnership (PPP) model to involve private medical practitioners (PMPs) within the National TB Control Programme (NTP)'s activities. Since 2008, this PPP model has been scaled up in two other big cities, Chittagong and Sylhet. This paper reports the results of this development, evaluation and scale-up.
Mixed method, observational study design. We used NTP service statistics to compare the TB control outcomes between intervention and control areas. To capture detailed insights of PMPs and TB managers about the process and outcomes of the study, we conducted in-depth interviews, focus group discussions and workshops.
Urban setting, piloted in four areas in Dhaka city; later scaled up in other areas of Dhaka and in two major cities.
The partnership with PMPs yielded significantly increased case finding of sputum smear-positive TB cases. Between 2004 and 2010, 703 participating PMPs referred 3959 sputum smear-positive TB cases to the designated Directly Observed Treatment, Short-course (DOTS) centres, contributing about 36% of all TB cases in the project areas. There was a steady increase in case notification rates in the project areas following implementation of the partnership.
The PPP model was highly effective in improving access and quality of TB care in urban settings.
Patients' priorities and views on quality care are well-documented in Western countries but there is a dearth of research in this area in the East. The aim of the present study was to explore Chinese patients' views on quality of primary care consultations in Hong Kong and to compare these with the items in the CARE measure (a process measure of consultation quality widely used in the UK) in order to assess the potential utility of the CARE measure in a Chinese population.
Individual semi-structured interviews were conducted on 21 adult patients from 3 different primary care clinics (a public primary healthcare clinic, a University health centre, and a private family physician's clinic). Topics discussed included expectations, experiences, and views about quality of medical consultations. Interviews were typed verbatim, and a thematic approach was taken to identify key issues. These identified issues were then compared with the ten CARE measure items, using a CARE framework: Connecting (Care Measure items 1–3), Assessing (item 4), Responding (items 5,6), and Empowering (items 7–10).
Patients judged doctors in terms of both the process of the consultation and the perceived outcomes. Themes identified that related to the interpersonal process of the consultation fitted well under the CARE framework; Connecting and communicating (18/21 patients), Assessing holistically (10/21 patients), Responding (18/21 patients) and Empowering (19/21 patients). Patients from the public clinic, who were generally of lower socio-economic status, were least likely to expect holistic care or empowerment. Two-thirds of patients also judged doctors on whether they performed an adequate physical examination, and three-quarters on the later outcomes of consultation (in terms of relief or cure and/or side-effects of prescribed drugs).
These findings suggest that Chinese patients in Hong Kong value engaged, empathic primary care doctors and judge the quality of consultations largely on these human skills and the attitudes and values that underpin them, as well as on the perceived outcomes of treatment. The match between themes relating to consultation process and the CARE Measure items suggests utility of this measure in this population, but further quantitative validation is required.
Cost of delivering reproductive health services to low-income populations will always require total or partial subsidization by the government and/or development partners. Broadly termed "Demand-Side Financing" or "Output-Based Aid", includes a range of interventions that channel government or donor subsidies to the service user rather than the service provider. Initial findings from the few assessments of reproductive health voucher-and-accreditation programs suggest that, if implemented well, these programs have great potential for achieving the policy objectives of increasing access and use, reducing inequities and enhancing program efficiency and service quality. At this point in time, however, there is a paucity of evidence describing how the various voucher programs function in different settings, for various reproductive health services.
Population Council-Nairobi, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, intends to address the lack of evidence around the pros and cons of 'voucher and accreditation' approaches to improving the reproductive health of low income women in five developing countries. In Bangladesh, the activities will be conducted in 11 accredited health facilities where Demand Side Financing program is being implemented and compared with populations drawn from areas served by similar non-accredited facilities. Facility inventories, client exit interviews and service provider interviews will be used to collect comparable data across each facility for assessing readiness and quality of care. In-depth interviews with key stakeholders will be conducted to gain a deeper understanding about the program. A population-based survey will also be carried out in two types of locations: areas where vouchers are distributed and similar locations where vouchers are not distributed.
This is a quasi-experimental study which will investigate the impact of the voucher approach on improving maternal health behaviors and status and reducing inequities at the population level. We expect a significant increase in the utilization of maternal health care services by the accredited health facilities in the experimental areas compared to the control areas as a direct result of the interventions. If the voucher scheme in Bangladesh is found effective, it may help other countries to adopt this approach for improving utilization of maternity care services for reducing maternal mortality.
The Tanzania National Voucher Scheme (TNVS) uses the public health system and the commercial sector to deliver subsidised insecticide-treated nets (ITNs) to pregnant women. The system began operation in October 2004 and by May 2006 was operating in all districts in the country. Evaluating complex public health interventions which operate at national level requires a multidisciplinary approach, novel methods, and collaboration with implementers to support the timely translation of findings into programme changes. This paper describes this novel approach to delivering ITNs and the design of the monitoring and evaluation (M&E).
A comprehensive and multidisciplinary M&E design was developed collaboratively between researchers and the National Malaria Control Programme. Five main domains of investigation were identified: (1) ITN coverage among target groups, (2) provision and use of reproductive and child health services, (3) "leakage" of vouchers, (4) the commercial ITN market, and (5) cost and cost-effectiveness of the scheme.
The evaluation plan combined quantitative (household and facility surveys, voucher tracking, retail census and cost analysis) and qualitative (focus groups and in-depth interviews) methods. This plan was defined in collaboration with implementing partners but undertaken independently. Findings were reported regularly to the national malaria control programme and partners, and used to modify the implementation strategy over time.
The M&E of the TNVS is a potential model for generating information to guide national and international programmers about options for delivering priority interventions. It is independent, comprehensive, provides timely results, includes information on intermediate processes to allow implementation to be modified, measures leakage as well as coverage, and measures progress over time.
We studied the prerequisites for Public-Private Partnership (PPP) in the context of the Finnish health care system and more specifically in the field of ophthalmology. PPP can be defined as a more or less permanent cooperation between public and private actors, through which the joint products or services are developed and in which the risks, costs and profits are shared.
The Finnish eye care services system is heterogeneous with several different providers and can be regarded as sub-optimal in terms of overall resource use. What is more, the public sector is suffering from a shortage of ophthalmologists, which further decreases its possibilities to meet the present needs. As ophthalmology has traditionally been a medical specialty with a substantial private sector involvement in service provision, PPP could be a feasible policy to be used in the field. We thus ask the following research question: Is there, and to what extent, an open window of opportunity for PPP?
In addition to the previously published literature, the research data consisted of 17 thematic interviews with public and private experts in the field of ophthalmology. The analysis was conducted in two stages. First, a literature-based content analysis was used to explore the prerequisites for PPP. Second, Kingdon's (1995) multiple streams theory was used to study the opening of the window of opportunity for PPP.
Public and private parties reported similar problems in the current situation but defined them differently. Also, there is no consensus on policy alternatives. Public opinion seems to be somewhat uncertain as to the attitudes towards private service providers. The analysis thus showed that although there are prerequisites for PPP, the time has not yet come for a Public-Private Partnership.
Should the window open fully, the emergence of policy entrepreneurs and an opportunity for a win-win situation between public and private organizations are required.
This article considers some of the effects of health sector reform on human resources for health (HRH) in developing countries and countries in transition by examining the effect of fiscal reform and the introduction of decentralisation and market mechanisms to the health sector.
Fiscal reform results in pressure to measure the staff outputs of the health sector. Financial decentralisation often leads to hospitals becoming "corporatised" institutions, operating with business principles but remaining in the public sector. The introduction of market mechanisms often involves the formation of an internal market within the health sector and market testing of different functions with the private sector. This has immediate implications for the employment of health workers in the public sector, because the public sector may reduce its workforce if services are purchased from other sectors or may introduce more short-term and temporary employment contracts.
Decentralisation of budgets and administrative functions can affect the health sector, often in negative ways, by reducing resources available and confusing lines of accountability for health workers. Governance and regulation of health care, when delivered by both public and private providers, require new systems of regulation.
The increase in private sector provision has led health workers to move to the private sector. For those remaining in the public sector, there are often worsening working conditions, a lack of employment security and dismantling of collective bargaining agreements.
Human resource development is gradually being recognised as crucial to future reforms and the formulation of health policy. New information systems at local and regional level will be needed to collect data on human resources. New employment arrangements, strengthening organisational culture, training and continuing education will also be needed.
Little is known about how sexual and reproductive (SRH) health can be made accessible and appropriate to adolescents. This study evaluates the impact and sustainability of a competitive voucher program on the quality of SRH care for poor and underserved female adolescents and the usefulness of the simulated patient (SP) method for such evaluation.
28,711 vouchers were distributed to adolescents in disadvantaged areas of Managua that gave free-of-charge access to SRH care in 4 public, 10 non-governmental and 5 private clinics. Providers received training and guidelines, treatment protocols, and financial incentives for each adolescent attended. All clinics were visited by female adolescent SPs requesting contraception. SPs were sent one week before, during (with voucher) and one month after the intervention. After each consultation they were interviewed with a standardized questionnaire. Twenty-one criteria were scored and grouped into four categories. Clinics' scores were compared using non-parametric statistical methods (paired design: before-during and before-after). Also the influence of doctors' characteristics was tested using non-parametric statistical methods.
Some aspects of service quality improved during the voucher program. Before the program started 8 of the 16 SPs returned 'empty handed', although all were eligible contraceptive users. During the program 16/17 left with a contraceptive method (p = 0.01). Furthermore, more SPs were involved in the contraceptive method choice (13/17 vs.5/16, p = 0.02). Shared decision-making on contraceptive method as well as condom promotion had significantly increased after the program ended.
Female doctors had best scores before- during and after the intervention. The improvements were more pronounced among male doctors and doctors older than 40, though these improvements did not sustain after the program ended.
This study illustrates provider-related obstacles adolescents often face when requesting contraception. The care provided during the voucher program improved for some important outcomes. The improvements were more pronounced among providers with the weakest initial performance. Shared decision-making and condom promotion were improvements that sustained after the program ended. The SP method is suitable and relatively easy to apply in monitoring clinics' performance, yielding important and relevant information. Objective assessment of change through the SP method is much more complex and expensive.
As the Federal agency that provides leadership in expanding access to primary health care, the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) manages some 50 programs directed toward the delivery of services and strengthening the base of national health resources. An enabling element of the agency's strategy is the expansion of partnerships with national associations, private foundations, and other entities that share a concern for the health care of the medically underserved. Cooperative efforts with national organizations are intended to promote the integration of public and private resources and encourage adoption of efficient approaches to organizing and financing health care. Medical education in the primary care specialties, State programs for women and children, involvement of managed care organizations with low-income populations, and programs concerning the uninsured are the foci of some of these collaborative relationships.
The idea of a premium support (or voucher) system for Medicare has generated substantial debate. Under premium support, Medicare beneficiaries choose among health plans that compete in a market-based bidding system. In some models, the Traditional Medicare (TM) program is abandoned entirely in favor of private health plans. In other models, such as the Ryan-Wyden plan, TM becomes one option among many.
There is general agreement, including from the pharmaceutical industry, that current market based methods of generating research into the development of pharmaceutical products that are relevant for developing countries do not work. This conclusion is relevant not just for the most neglected diseases such as leishmaniasis but even for global diseases such as cancer and cardiovascular disease.
Stimulating research will mean overcoming barriers such as patent thickets, poor coordination of research activities, exclusive licensing of new technologies by universities and the structural problems that inhibit conducting appropriate clinical trials in developing countries. In addition, it is necessary to ensure that the priorities for research reflect the needs of developing countries and not just donors. This article will explore each of these issues and then look at three emerging approaches to stimulating research -paying for innovation, priority review sales or vouchers and public-private partnerships, - and evaluate their strengths and weaknesses.
All of the stakeholders agree that there is a pressing need for a major expansion in the level of R&D. Whatever that new model turns out to be, it will have to deal with the 5 barriers outlined in this paper. Finally, none of the three proposals considered here for expanding research is free from major limitations.
In response to increases in methamphatemine-associated sexually transmitted diseases, the San Francisco Department of Public Health implemented a contingency management (CM) field program called the Positive Reinforcement Opportunity Project (PROP).
Methamphetamine-using men who have sex with men (MSM) in San Francisco qualified for PROP following expressed interest in the program, provision of an observed urine sample that tested positive for methamphetamine metabolites and self-report of recent methamphetamine use. For 12 weeks, PROP participants provided observed urine samples on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and received vouchers of increasing value for each consecutive sample that tested negative to metabolites of methamphetamine. Vouchers were exchanged for goods and services that promoted a healthy lifestyle. No cash was provided. Primary outcomes included acceptability (number of enrollments/time), impact (clinical response to treatment and cost-effectiveness as cost per patient treated).
Enrollment in PROP was brisk indicating its acceptability. During the first 10 months of operation, 143 men sought treatment and of these 77.6% were HIV-infected. Of those screened, 111 began CM treatment and averaged 15 (42%) methamphetamine-free urine samples out of a possible 36 samples during the 12-week treatment period; 60% completed 4 weeks of treatment; 48% 8 weeks and 30% 12 weeks. Across all participants, an average of $159 (SD = $165) in vouchers or 35.1% of the maximum possible ($453) was provided for these participants. The average cost per participant of the 143 treated was $800.
Clinical responses to CM in PROP were similar to CM delivered in drug treatment programs, supporting the adaptability and effectiveness of CM to non-traditional drug treatment settings. Costs were reasonable and less than or comparable to other methamphetamine outpatient treatment programs. Further expansion of programs like PROP could address the increasing need for acceptable, feasible and cost-effective methamphetamine treatment in this group with exceptionally high rates of HIV-infection.
Alternatives to the traditional 'supply-side' approach to financing service delivery are being explored. These strategies are termed results-based finance, demand-side health financing or output-based aid which includes a range of interventions that channel government or donor subsidies to the user rather than the provider. Initial pilot assessments of reproductive health voucher programs suggest that, they can increase access and use, reducing inequities and enhancing program efficiency and service quality. However, there is a paucity of evidence describing how the programs function in different settings, for various reproductive health services. Population Council, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, intends to generate evidence around the 'voucher and accreditation' approaches to improving the reproductive health of low income women in Kenya.
A quasi-experimental study will investigate the impact of the voucher approach on improving reproductive health behaviors, reproductive health status and reducing inequities at the population level; and assessing the effect of vouchers on increasing access to, and quality of, and reducing inequities in the use of selected reproductive health services. The study comprises of four populations: facilities, providers, women of reproductive health age using facilities and women and men who have been pregnant and/or used family planning within the previous 12 months. The study will be carried out in samples of health facilities - public, private and faith-based in: three districts; Kisumu, Kiambu, Kitui and two informal settlements in Nairobi which are accredited to provide maternal and newborn health and family planning services to women holding vouchers for the services; and compared with a matched sample of non-accredited facilities. Health facility assessments (HFA) will be conducted at two stages to track temporal changes in quality of care and utilization. Facility inventories, structured observations, and client exit interviews will be used to collect comparable data across facilities. Health providers will also be interviewed and observed providing care. A population survey of about 3000 respondents will also be carried out in areas where vouchers are distributed and similar locations where vouchers are not distributed.
Vouchers; Out-put based approach