Search tips
Search criteria

Results 1-7 (7)

Clipboard (0)

Select a Filter Below

Year of Publication
Document Types
author:("sensor, Tim")
1.  Effects of demand-side financing on utilisation, experiences and outcomes of maternity care in low- and middle-income countries: a systematic review 
Demand-side financing, where funds for specific services are channelled through, or to, prospective users, is now employed in health and education sectors in many low- and middle-income countries. This systematic review aimed to critically examine the evidence on application of this approach to promote maternal health in these settings. Five modes were considered: unconditional cash transfers, conditional cash transfers, short-term payments to offset costs of accessing maternity services, vouchers for maternity services, and vouchers for merit goods. We sought to assess the effects of these interventions on utilisation of maternity services and on maternal health outcomes and infant health, the situation of underprivileged women and the healthcare system.
The protocol aimed for collection and synthesis of a broad range of evidence from quantitative, qualitative and economic studies. Nineteen health and social policy databases, seven unpublished research databases and 27 websites were searched; with additional searches of Indian journals and websites. Studies were included if they examined demand-side financing interventions to increase consumption of services or goods intended to impact on maternal health, and met relevant quality criteria. Quality assessment, data extraction and analysis used Joanna Briggs Institute standardised tools and software. Outcomes of interest included maternal and infant mortality and morbidity, service utilisation, factors required for successful implementation, recipient and provider experiences, ethical issues, and cost-effectiveness. Findings on Effectiveness, Feasibility, Appropriateness and Meaningfulness were presented by narrative synthesis.
Thirty-three quantitative studies, 46 qualitative studies, and four economic studies from 17 countries met the inclusion criteria. Evidence on unconditional cash transfers was scanty. Other demand-side financing modes were found to increase utilisation of maternal healthcare in the index pregnancy or uptake of related merit goods. Evidence of effects on maternal and infant mortality and morbidity outcomes was insufficient. Important implementation aspects include targeting and eligibility criteria, monitoring, respectful treatment of beneficiaries, suitable incentives for providers, quality of care and affordable referral systems.
Demand-side financing schemes can increase utilisation of maternity services, but attention must be paid to supply-side conditions, the fine-grain of implementation and sustainability. Comparative studies and research on health impact and cost-effectiveness are required.
PMCID: PMC3897964  PMID: 24438560
Demand-side financing; Maternal health; Vouchers; Cash transfers; Narrative synthesis; Qualitative; Systematic review
2.  Removing financial barriers to access reproductive, maternal and newborn health services: the challenges and policy implications for human resources for health 
The last decade has seen widespread retreat from user fees with the intention to reduce financial constraints to users in accessing health care and in particular improving access to reproductive, maternal and newborn health services. This has had important benefits in reducing financial barriers to access in a number of settings. If the policies work as intended, service utilization rates increase. However this increases workloads for health staff and at the same time, the loss of user fee revenues can imply that health workers lose bonuses or allowances, or that it becomes more difficult to ensure uninterrupted supplies of health care inputs.
This research aimed to assess how policies reducing demand-side barriers to access to health care have affected service delivery with a particular focus on human resources for health.
We undertook case studies in five countries (Ghana, Nepal, Sierra Leone, Zambia and Zimbabwe). In each we reviewed financing and HRH policies, considered the impact financing policy change had made on health service utilization rates, analysed the distribution of health staff and their actual and potential workloads, and compared remuneration terms in the public sectors.
We question a number of common assumptions about the financing and human resource inter-relationships. The impact of fee removal on utilization levels is mostly not sustained or supported by all the evidence. Shortages of human resources for health at the national level are not universal; maldistribution within countries is the greater problem. Low salaries are not universal; most of the countries pay health workers well by national benchmarks.
The interconnectedness between user fee policy and HRH situations proves difficult to assess. Many policies have been changing over the relevant period, some clearly and others possibly in response to problems identified associated with financing policy change. Other relevant variables have also changed.
However, as is now well-recognised in the user fee literature, co-ordination of health financing and human resource policies is essential. This appears less well recognised in the human resources literature. This coordination involves considering user charges, resource availability at health facility level, health worker pay, terms and conditions, and recruitment in tandem. All these policies need to be effectively monitored in their processes as well as outcomes, but sufficient data are not collected for this purpose.
PMCID: PMC3849922  PMID: 24053731
User fees; Human resources for health; Policy co-ordination; Distribution; Workload; Pay
3.  The human resource implications of improving financial risk protection for mothers and newborns in Zimbabwe 
A paradigm shift in global health policy on user fees has been evident in the last decade with a growing consensus that user fees undermine equitable access to essential health care in many low and middle income countries. Changes to fees have major implications for human resources for health (HRH), though the linkages are rarely explicitly examined. This study aimed to examine the inter-linkages in Zimbabwe in order to generate lessons for HRH and fee policies, with particular respect to reproductive, maternal and newborn health (RMNH).
The study used secondary data and small-scale qualitative fieldwork (key informant interview and focus group discussions) at national level and in one district in 2011.
The past decades have seen a shift in the burden of payments onto households. Implementation of the complex rules on exemptions is patchy and confused. RMNH services are seen as hard for families to afford, even in the absence of complications. Human resources are constrained in managing current demand and any growth in demand by high external and internal migration, and low remuneration, amongst other factors. We find that nurses and midwives are evenly distributed across the country (at least in the public sector), though doctors are not. This means that for four provinces, there are not enough doctors to provide more complex care, and only three provinces could provide cover in the event of all deliveries taking place in facilities.
This analysis suggests that there is a strong case for reducing the financial burden on clients of RMNH services and also a pressing need to improve the terms and conditions of key health staff. Numbers need to grow, and distribution is also a challenge, suggesting the need for differentiated policies in relation to rural areas, especially for doctors and specialists. The management of user fees should also be reviewed, particularly for non-Ministry facilities, which do not retain their revenues, and receive limited investment in return from the municipalities and district councils. Overall public investment in health needs to grow.
PMCID: PMC3671956  PMID: 23714143
Human resources for health; Zimbabwe; Reproductive; Maternal and newborn health; Financial access; User fees
4.  “Can community level interventions have an impact on equity and utilization of maternal health care” – Evidence from rural Bangladesh 
Evidence from low and middle income countries (LMICs) suggests that maternal mortality is more prevalent among the poor whereas access to maternal health services is concentrated among the rich. In Bangladesh substantial inequities exist both in the use of facility-based basic obstetric care and for home births attended by skilled birth attendant. BRAC initiated an intervention on Improving Maternal, Neonatal, and Child Survival (IMNCS) in the rural areas of Bangladesh in 2008. One of the objectives of the intervention is to improve the utilization of maternal and child health care services among the poor. This study aimed to look at the impact of the intervention on utilization and also on equity of access to maternal health services.
A quasi-experimental pre-post comparison study was conducted in rural areas of five districts comprising three intervention (Gaibandha, Rangpur and Mymensingh) and two comparison districts (Netrokona and Naogaon). Data on health seeking behaviour for maternal health were collected from a repeated cross sectional household survey conducted in 2008 and 2010.
Results show that the intervention appears to cause an increase in the utilization of antenatal care. The concentration index (CI) shows that this has become pro-poor over time (from CI: 0.30 to CI: 0.04) in the intervention areas. In contrast the use of ANC from medically trained providers has become pro-rich (from, CI: 0.18 to CI: 0.22). There was a significant increase in the utilisation of trained attendants for home delivery in the intervention areas compared to the comparison areas and the change was found to be pro-poor. Use of postnatal care cervices was also found to be pro-poor (from CI: 0.37 to CI: 0.14). Utilization of ANC services provided by medically trained provider did not improve in the intervention area. However, where the intervention had a positive effect on utilization it also seemed to have had a positive effect on equity.
To sustain equity in health care utilization, the IMNCS programme needs to continue providing free home based services. In addition to this, the programme should also continue to provide funding to bear the cost to those mothers who are not able to have the comprehensive ANC from medically trained providers.
PMCID: PMC3620556  PMID: 23547900
5.  Budgeting based on need: a model to determine sub-national allocation of resources for health services in Indonesia 
Allocating national resources to regions based on need is a key policy issue in most health systems. Many systems utilise proxy measures of need as the basis for allocation formulae. Increasingly these are underpinned by complex statistical methods to separate need from supplier induced utilisation. Assessment of need is then used to allocate existing global budgets to geographic areas. Many low and middle income countries are beginning to use formula methods for funding however these attempts are often hampered by a lack of information on utilisation, relative needs and whether the budgets allocated bear any relationship to cost. An alternative is to develop bottom-up estimates of the cost of providing for local need. This method is viable where public funding is focused on a relatively small number of targeted services. We describe a bottom-up approach to developing a formula for the allocation of resources. The method is illustrated in the context of the state minimum service package mandated to be provided by the Indonesian public health system.
A standardised costing methodology was developed that is sensitive to the main expected drivers of local cost variation including demographic structure, epidemiology and location. Essential package costing is often undertaken at a country level. It is less usual to utilise the methods across different parts of a country in a way that takes account of variation in population needs and location. Costing was based on best clinical practice in Indonesia and province specific data on distribution and costs of facilities. The resulting model was used to estimate essential package costs in a representative district in each province of the country.
Substantial differences in the costs of providing basic services ranging from USD 15 in urban Yogyakarta to USD 48 in sparsely populated North Maluku. These costs are driven largely by the structure of the population, particularly numbers of births, infants and children and also key diseases with high cost/prevalence and variation, most notably the level of malnutrition. The approach to resource allocation was implemented using existing data sources and permitted the rapid construction of a needs based formula that is highly specific to the package mandated across the country. Refinement could focus more on resources required to finance demand side costs and expansion of the service package to include priority non-communicable services.
PMCID: PMC3453525  PMID: 22931536
Resource allocation; Costing; Benefits package
6.  Basing care reforms on evidence: The Kenya health sector costing model 
The Government of the Republic of Kenya is in the process of implementing health care reforms. However, poor knowledge about costs of health care services is perceived as a major obstacle towards evidence-based, effective and efficient health care reforms. Against this background, the Ministry of Health of Kenya in cooperation with its development partners conducted a comprehensive costing exercise and subsequently developed the Kenya Health Sector Costing Model in order to fill this data gap.
Based on standard methodology of costing of health care services in developing countries, standard questionnaires and analyses were employed in 207 health care facilities representing different trustees (e.g. Government, Faith Based/Nongovernmental, private-for-profit organisations), levels of care and regions (urban, rural). In addition, a total of 1369 patients were randomly selected and asked about their demand-sided costs. A standard step-down costing methodology was applied to calculate the costs per service unit and per diagnosis of the financial year 2006/2007.
The total costs of essential health care services in Kenya were calculated as 690 million Euros or 18.65 Euro per capita. 54% were incurred by public sector facilities, 17% by Faith Based and other Nongovernmental facilities and 23% in the private sector. Some 6% of the total cost is due to the overall administration provided directly by the Ministry and its decentralised organs. Around 37% of this cost is absorbed by salaries and 22% by drugs and medical supplies. Generally, costs of lower levels of care are lower than of higher levels, but health centres are an exemption. They have higher costs per service unit than district hospitals.
The results of this study signify that the costs of health care services are quite high compared with the Kenyan domestic product, but a major share are fixed costs so that an increasing coverage does not necessarily increase the health care costs proportionally. Instead, productivity will rise in particular in under-utilized private health care institutions. The results of this study also show that private-for-profit health care facilities are not only the luxurious providers catering exclusively for the rich but also play an important role in the service provision for the poorer population. The study findings also demonstrated a high degree of cost variability across private providers, suggesting differences in quality and efficiencies.
PMCID: PMC3129293  PMID: 21619567
7.  The impact of economic recession on maternal and infant mortality: lessons from history 
BMC Public Health  2010;10:727.
The effect of the recent world recession on population health has featured heavily in recent international meetings. Maternal health is a particular concern given that many countries were already falling short of their MDG targets for 2015.
We utilise 20th century time series data from 14 high and middle income countries to investigate associations between previous economic recession and boom periods on maternal and infant outcomes (1936 to 2005). A first difference logarithmic model is used to investigate the association between short run fluctuations in GDP per capita (individual incomes) and changes in health outcomes. Separate models are estimated for four separate time periods.
The results suggest a modest but significant association between maternal and infant mortality and economic growth for early periods (1936 to 1965) but not more recent periods. Individual country data display markedly different patterns of response to economic changes. Japan and Canada were vulnerable to economic shocks in the post war period. In contrast, mortality rates in countries such as the UK and Italy and particularly the US appear little affected by economic fluctuations.
The data presented suggest that recessions do have a negative association with maternal and infant outcomes particularly in earlier stages of a country's development although the effects vary widely across different systems. Almost all of the 20 least wealthy countries have suffered a reduction of 10% or more in GDP per capita in at least one of the last five decades. The challenge for today's policy makers is the design and implementation of mechanisms that protect vulnerable populations from the effects of fluctuating national income.
PMCID: PMC3002333  PMID: 21106089

Results 1-7 (7)