Pregnant women were offered free access to health care through National Health Insurance (NHIS) membership in Ghana in 2008, in the latest phase of policy reforms to ensure universal access to maternal health care. During the same year, free membership was made available to all children (under-18). This article presents an exploratory qualitative analysis of how the policy of free maternal membership was developed and how it is being implemented.
The study was based on a review of existing literature – grey and published – and on a key informant interviews (n = 13) carried out in March-June 2012. The key informants included representatives of the key stakeholders in the health system and public administration, largely at national level but also including two districts.
The introduction of the new policy for pregnant women was seen as primarily a political initiative, with limited stakeholder consultation. No costing was done prior to introduction, and no additional funds provided to the NHIS to support the policy after the first year. Guidelines had been issued but beyond collecting numbers of women registered, no additional monitoring and evaluation have yet been put in place to monitor its implementation. Awareness of the under-18 s policy amongst informants was so low that this component had to be removed from the final study. Initial barriers to access, such as pregnancy tests, were cited, but many appear to have been resolved now. Providers are concerned about the workload related to services and claims management but have benefited from increased financial resources. Users still face informal charges, and are reported to have responded differentially, with rises in antenatal care and in urban areas highlighted. Policy sustainability is linked to the survival of the NHIS as a whole.
Ghana has to be congratulated for its persistence in trying to address financial barriers. However, many themes from previous evaluations of exemptions policies in Ghana have recurred in this study – particularly, the difficulties of getting timely reimbursement to facilities, of controlling charging of patients, and of reaching the poorest. This suggests that providing free care through a national health insurance system has not solved systemic weaknesses. The wider concerns about raising the quality of care, and ensuring that all supply-side and demand-side elements are in place to make the policy effective will also take a longer term and bigger commitment.
Maternal health; Exemptions; Ghana; Health insurance; Policy process; Implementation
The residents of many Australian rural and remote communities do not have the essential infrastructure and services required to support healthy living conditions and community members choosing healthy lifestyle options. Improving these social determinants of health is seen to offer real opportunities to improve health among such disadvantaged populations. In this paper, we describe the development and trialling of a tool to measure, monitor and evaluate key social determinants of health at community level.
The tool was developed and piloted through a multi-phase and iterative process that involved a series of consultations with community members and key stakeholders and trialling the tool in remote Indigenous communities in the Northern Territory of Australia.
The indicators were found to be robust, and by testing the tool on a number of different levels, face validity was confirmed. The scoring system was well understood and easily followed by Indigenous and non-Indigenous study participants. A facilitated small group process was found to reduce bias in scoring of indicators.
The Healthy Community Assessment Tool offers a useful vehicle and process to help those involved in planning, service provision and more generally promoting improvements in community social determinants of health. The tool offers many potential uses and benefits for those seeking to address inequities in the social determinants of health in remote communities. Maximum benefits in using the tool are likely to be gained with cross-sector involvement and when assessments are part of a continuous quality improvement program.
Public health; Social determinants; Indigenous health; Remote; Environmental health
Our aim is to provide a state-of-the-art overview of knowledge on sex (biological) and gender (sociocultural) aspects of Human papillomavirus (HPV) and cervical cancer for educational purposes. Considerable disparities exist in cervical cancer incidences between different subgroups of women. We provide an outline on the crucial issues and debates based on the recent literature published in leading gender medicine journals. Intersectionality was applied in order to help categorise the knowledge.
Key terms (HPV, cervical cancer) were screened in Gender Medicine, Journal of Women’s Health and Women & Health from January 2005-June 2012. Additional searches were conducted for topics insufficiently mentioned, such as HPV vaccination of boys. In total, 71 publications were included (56 original papers, four reviews, six reports, three commentaries, one editorial and one policy statement).
Research reveals complexity in the way various subgroups of women adhere to cervical screening. Less educated women, older women, uninsured women, homeless women, migrant women facing language barriers, women who have sex with women and obese women participate in Pap smears less frequently. A series of barriers can act to impede decisions to vaccinate against HPV.
Both male and female controlled preventive methods and treatment measures should be developed in order to tackle HPV infection and different strategies are needed for different subgroups. A substantial discussion and research on alternative methods of prevention was and is lacking. In future research, sex and gender aspects of HPV-related diseases of boys and men as well as subgroup differences in HPV risk need to be addressed.
Gender; Human papillomavirus; HPV; HPV vaccine; Cervical cancer; Pap smear; HPV DNA testing; Intersectionality
Previous studies have evaluated the effects of various health manpower policies but did not include full consideration of the effect of universal health insurance on physician re-distribution. This study examines the effects of implementing National Health Insurance (NHI) on the problem of geographic mal-distribution of health providers in Taiwan.
Data on health providers and population between 1971 and 2001 are obtained from relevant governmental publications in Taiwan. Gini coefficients derived from the Lorenz curve are used under a spline regression model to examine the impact of the NHI on the geographic distribution of health providers.
The geographic distribution equality of the three key health providers has improved significantly after the implementation of NHI program. After accounting for the influences of other confounding factors, Gini coefficients of the three key providers have a net reduction of 1.248% for dentists, 0.365% for western medicine physicians, and 0.311% for Chinese medicine physicians. Overall, the absolute values of the three key providers’ Gini coefficients also become close to one another.
This study found that NHI’s offering universal health coverage to all citizens and with proper financial incentives have resulted in more equal geographic distributions among the key health care providers in Taiwan.
To test the hypothesis that the distribution of healthcare services is according to health need can be achieved under a rather open access system.
The 2001 National Health Interview Survey of Taiwan and National Health Insurance claims data were linked in the study. Health need was defined by self-perceived health status. We used Concentration index to measure need-related inequality in healthcare utilization and expenditure.
People with greater health need received more healthcare services, indicating a pro-need character of healthcare distribution, conforming to the meaning of vertical equity. For outpatient service, subjects with the highest health need had higher proportion of ever use in a year than those who had the least health need and consumed more outpatient visits and expenditures per person per year. Similar patterns were observed for emergency services and hospitalization. The concentration indices of utilization for outpatient, emergency services, and hospitalization suggest that the distribution of utilization was related to health need, whereas the preventive service was less related to need.
The universal coverage plus healthcare networking system makes it possible for healthcare to be utilized according to need. Taiwan’s experience can serve as a reference for health reform.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women experience higher rates of obesity, chronic disease, and are less active than non-Indigenous Australian women. Lifestyle programs designed to increase physical activity and encourage healthy eating are needed to ameliorate this disparity. The aim of this study was to identify participants’ perceived barriers and enablers to attend group exercise classes as part of a 12-week fitness program.
To understand the factors that influence attendance, a mixed method process evaluation was undertaken in which a quantitative measure of attendance in the group exercise classes was used to identify cases for further qualitative investigation. Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander women aged 18 to 64 years were recruited to a research trial of a fitness program. The 12-week program included two 60-minute group exercise classes per week, and four nutrition education workshops. Semi-structured interviews were conducted at program completion. Participants were stratified by attendance, and interviews from the highest and lowest 25 percentiles analysed. Rigour was strengthened through use of multiple data analysts, member checking and prolonged engagement in the field.
Analyses of the post-program interviews revealed that participants enrolled in the program primarily for the perceived health benefits and all (with one exception) found the program met their needs and expectations. The atmosphere of classes was positive and comfortable and they reported developing good relationships with their fellow participants and program staff. Low attendees described more barriers to attendance, such as illness and competing work and family obligations, and were more likely to report logistical issues, such as inconvenient venue or class times.
Attendance to the ‘Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Women’s Fitness Program’ was primarily influenced by the participant’s personal health, logistics and competing obligations. Low attendees reported more barriers during the 12-week period and identified fewer enabling factors than high attendees.
Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry ACTRN12610000224022
Aboriginal; Torres Strait Islander; Physical activity; Women; Lifestyle program; Health promotion; Barriers; Facilitators; Participation
The 2010 Census revealed the population of Latino and Asian children grew by 5.5 million, while the population of white children declined by 4.3 million from 2000-2010, and minority children will outnumber white children by 2020. No prior analyses, however, have examined time trends in racial/ethnic disparities in children’s health and healthcare. The study objectives were to identify racial/ethnic disparities in medical and oral health, access to care, and use of services in US children, and determine whether these disparities have changed over time.
The 2003 and 2007 National Surveys of Children’s Health were nationally representative telephone surveys of parents of 193,995 children 0-17 years old (N = 102,353 in 2003 and N = 91,642 in 2007). Thirty-four disparities indicators were examined for white, African-American, Latino, Asian/Pacific-Islander, American Indian/Alaskan Native, and multiracial children. Multivariable analyses were performed to adjust for nine relevant covariates, and Z-scores to examine time trends.
Eighteen disparities occurred in 2007 for ≥1 minority group. The number of indicators for which at least one racial/ethnic group experienced disparities did not significantly change between 2003-2007, nor did the total number of specific disparities (46 in 2007). The disparities for one subcategory (use of services), however, did decrease (by 82%). Although 15 disparities decreased over time, two worsened, and 10 new disparities arose.
Minority children continue to experience multiple disparities in medical and oral health and healthcare. Most disparities persisted over time. Although disparities in use of services decreased, 10 new disparities arose in 2007. Study findings suggest that urgent policy solutions are needed to eliminate these disparities, including collecting racial/ethnic and language data on all patients, monitoring and publicly disclosing disparities data annually, providing health-insurance coverage and medical and dental homes for all children, making disparities part of the national healthcare quality discussion, ensuring all children receive needed pediatric specialty care, and more research and innovative solutions.
Disparities; Minorities; Children; Race; Ethnicity; Blacks; Hispanics; Asians/Pacific islanders; Native Americans; Multiracial
In Sweden, means-tested social assistance serves as a temporary, last resort safety net. However, increasing numbers of people are receiving it for longer periods and about a third has assistance for more than a year. The aim of this study was to explore the ways social assistance recipients manage long lasting adversity and their roles as active, rather than passive, agents in this process, using a resilience perspective.
The study is based on thirteen in-depth interviews with long-term social assistance recipients from diverse areas in Stockholm County. The interviews were guided by narrative inquiry to interpret and construct stories of experiences and are part of a larger qualitative study exploring experiences of living on social assistance in Sweden.
Experiences of cumulative adversity during many years compounded recipients’ difficulties in finding ways out of hardship. They had different strategies to deal with adversities, and many had underlying “core problems”, including mental health problems, which had not been properly resolved. Recipients’ showed resistance in adverse situations. Some made attempts to find ways out of hardship, whereas others struggled mainly to achieve a sense of mastering life. They received important support from individual professionals in different authorities, but mostly the help from the welfare system was fragmented.
Social assistance recipients in this study demonstrated agency in ways of managing long lasting difficulties, sometimes caused by “core problems”, which were often accumulated into complex difficulties. Resilience was about keeping going and resisting these difficulties. To find ways out of social assistance required help from different welfare agencies and professionals and was hindered by the fragmentation of services. This study shows that there is a need for more long-term personalised, comprehensive support, including interventions both to increase individual well-being and self-esteem and to open up opportunities for education and employment. Adequate benefit levels and overall quality of welfare services such as health and social care, day care and schools, are of major importance for those in greatest need.
Sweden; Social assistance; Narratives; Qualitative; Resilience; Adversity
We examined the mediating effect of health insurance on poverty-breast cancer care and survival relationships and the moderating effect of poverty on health insurance-breast cancer care and survival relationships in California.
Registry data for 6,300 women with breast cancer diagnosed between 1996 and 2000 and followed until 2011 on stage at diagnosis, surgeries, adjuvant treatments and survival were analyzed. Socioeconomic data were obtained for residences from the 2000 census to categorize neighborhoods: high poverty (30% or more poor), middle poverty (5%-29% poor) and low poverty (less than 5% poor). Primary payers or health insurers were Medicaid, Medicare, private or uninsured.
Evidence of survival mediation was observed for women with node negative breast cancer. The apparent effect of poverty disappeared in the presence of Medicare or private health insurance. Women who were so insured were advantaged on 8-year survival compared to the uninsured or those insured by Medicaid (OR = 1.89). Evidence of payer moderation by poverty was also observed for women with node negative breast cancer. The survival advantaging effect of Medicare or private insurance was stronger in low poverty (OR = 1.81) than it was in middle poverty (OR = 1.57) or in high poverty neighborhoods (OR = 1.16). This same pattern of mediated and moderated effects was also observed for early stage at diagnosis, shorter waits for adjuvant radiation therapy and for the receipt of sentinel lymph node biopsies. These findings are consistent with the theory that more facilitative social and economic capital is available in low poverty neighborhoods, where women with breast cancer may be better able to absorb the indirect and direct, but uncovered, costs of care. As for treatments, main protective effects as well as moderator effects indicative of protection, particularly in high poverty neighborhoods were observed for women with private health insurance.
America’s multi-tiered health insurance system mediates the quality of breast cancer care. The system is inequitable and unjust as it advantages the well insured and the well to do. Recent health care reforms ought to be enacted in ways that are consistent with their federal legislative intent, that high quality health care be truly available to all.
Health insurance; Poverty; Breast cancer care; Survival; Social capital; Health care reform; California, United States
Since 2004, the Sun Quality Health (SQH) franchise network has provided TB care in Myanmar through a network of established private medical clinics. This study compares the wealth distribution of the TB patients to non-TB patients to determine if TB is most common among the poor, and compares the wealth of all TB patients to SQH TB patients to assess whether the franchise achieves its goal of serving the poor.
The study uses data from two sources: 1) Myanmar’s first nationally representative TB prevalence study conducted in 2009, and 2) client exit interviews from TB patients from SQH clinics. In total, 1,114 TB-positive individuals were included in the study, including 739 from the national sample and 375 from the SQH sample.
TB patients at SQH clinics were poorer than TB-positive individuals in the overall population, though not at a statistically significant level (p > 0.05). After stratification we found that in urban areas, TB patients at SQH clinics were more likely to be in the poorest quartile compared to general TB positive population (16.8% vs. 8.6%, respectively; p < 0.05). In rural areas, there was no statistically significant difference between the wealth distribution of SQH clinic patients and general TB positive individuals (p > 0.05).
Franchised clinics in Myanmar are reaching poor populations of TB patients in urban areas; more efforts are needed in order to reach the most vulnerable in rural areas.
Tuberculosis; Private providers; Myanmar; Poor; Urban rural
Skilled birth attendance (SBA) and measles immunization reflect two aspects of a health system. In Kenya, their national coverage gaps are substantial but could be largely improved if the total population had the same coverage as the wealthiest quintile. A decomposition analysis allows identifying the factors that influence these wealth-related inequalities in order to develop appropriate policy responses. The main objective of the study was to decompose wealth-related inequalities in SBA and measles immunization into their contributing factors.
Data from the Kenyan Demographic and Health Survey 2008/09 were used. The study investigated the effects of socio-economic determinants on  coverage and  wealth-related inequalities of SBA utilization and measles immunization. Techniques used were multivariate logistic regression and decomposition of the concentration index (C).
SBA utilization and measles immunization coverage differed according to household wealth, parent’s education, skilled antenatal care visits, birth order and father’s occupation. SBA utilization further differed across provinces and ethnic groups. The overall C for SBA was 0.14 and was mostly explained by wealth (40%), parent’s education (28%), antenatal care (9%), and province (6%). The overall C for measles immunization was 0.08 and was mostly explained by wealth (60%), birth order (33%), and parent’s education (28%). Rural residence (−19%) reduced this inequality.
Both health care indicators require a broad strengthening of health systems with a special focus on disadvantaged sub-groups.
Kenya; Skilled birth attendance; Measles immunization; Socio-economic inequalities; Concentration index; Decomposition
The Ghanaian National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) was introduced to provide access to adequate health care regardless of ability to pay. By law the NHIS is mandatory but because the informal sector has to make premium payment before they are enrolled, the authorities are unable to enforce mandatory nature of the scheme. The ultimate goal of the Scheme then is to provide all residents with access to adequate health care at affordable cost. In other words, the Scheme intends to achieve universal coverage. An important factor for the achievement of universal coverage is that revenue collection be equitable. The purpose of this study is to examine the vertical and horizontal equity of the premium collection of the Scheme. The Kakwani index method as well as graphical analysis was used to study the vertical equity. Horizontal inequity was measured through the effect of the premium on redistribution of ability to pay of members. The extent to which the premium could cause catastrophic expenditure was also examined. The results showed that revenue collection was both vertically and horizontally inequitable. The horizontal inequity had a greater effect on redistribution of ability to pay than vertical inequity. The computation of catastrophic expenditure showed that a small minority of the poor were likely to incur catastrophic expenditure from paying the premium a situation that could impede the achievement of universal coverage. The study provides recommendations to improve the inequitable system of premium payment to help achieve universal coverage.
Medical tourism is a global health practice where patients travel internationally with the intention of receiving medical services. A range of low, middle, and high income countries are encouraging investment in the medical tourism sector, including countries in the Caribbean targeting patients in North America and Europe. While medical tourism has the potential to provide economic and employment opportunities in destination countries, there are concerns that it could encourage the movement of health workers from the public to private health sector.
We present findings from 19 semi-structured interviews with stakeholders across the public health care, private health care, government, allied business, and civil society sectors. These interviews were conducted in-person in Barbados and via phone. The interview transcripts were coded and a thematic analysis developed.
Three themes were identified: 1) Stakeholder perceptions of the patterns and plans for health human resource usage by current and planned medical tourism facilities in Barbados. We found that while health human resource usage in the medical tourism sector has been limited, it is likely to grow in the future; 2) Anticipated positive impacts of medical tourism on health human resources and access to care in the public system. These benefits included improved quality control, training opportunities, and health worker retention; and 3) Anticipated negative impacts of medical tourism on health human resources and access to care in the public system. These impacts included longer wait times for care and a shift in planning priorities driven by the medical tourism sector.
Stakeholders interviewed who were connected to medical tourism expansion or the tourism sector took a generally positive view of the likely impacts of medical tourism on health human resources in Barbados. However, stakeholders associated with the public health system and health equity expressed concern that medical tourism may spread inequities in this country. The mechanisms by which observed negative health equity impacts in other countries will be avoided in Barbados are unclear. Continued study in Barbados and comparison with the regulatory frameworks in other countries is needed to help enhance positive and mitigate negative impacts of medical tourism on health human resources in Barbados. These findings will likely have import for other Caribbean nations investing in medical tourism and beyond.
In Canada, recent immigrant households experience more food insecurity than the general population, but limited information is available about the personal, cultural, and social factors that contribute to this vulnerability. This study focused on recent Latin American (LA) immigrants to explore their perceived barriers in acquiring safe, nutritious, and culturally-appropriate food.
A cross-sectional mixed-method design was applied to collect information from a convenience sample of 70 adult Spanish/Portuguese speakers who had arrived in Toronto within the last five years. Face-to-face interviews were conducted with primary household caregivers to obtain responses about barriers to acquiring food for their households; data were analyzed using a thematic analysis technique.
Four main categories of barriers were identified: limited financial resources; language difficulty; cultural food preferences; and poor knowledge of available community-based food resources and services. Inadequate income was the main impediment in accessing adequate food, and was related to affordability of food items, accessibility of food outlets and transportation cost, and limited time for grocery shopping due to work conditions. Language barriers affected participants’ ability to obtain well-paid employment and their awareness about and access to available community-based food resources. Cultural barriers were related to food preferences and limited access to culturally-appropriate foods and resources.
The main barrier to food security among our sample of LA newcomers to Toronto is limited financial resources, highlighting the need for policies and strategies that could improve their financial power to purchase sufficient, nutritious, and culturally-acceptable food. Linguistic barriers and limited information among newcomers suggest the need to provide linguistically- and culturally-appropriate information related to community-based food programs and resources, as well as accessible subsidized English language programs, in the community and at workplaces. Participatory community-based food programs can augment, in a socially acceptable manner, food resources and reduce the social stigma attached to food charity. Finally, it is crucial to monitor and evaluate existing social and community-based services for their accessibility, cultural appropriateness and diversity, and effectiveness.
Canada-Toronto; Recent Latin American immigrants; Food security; Cultural and Linguistic barriers; Community- based food programs
Although cervical cancer is a leading cause of cancer related morbidity and mortality among women in Ethiopia, there is lack of information regarding the perception of the community about the disease.
Focus group discussions were conducted with men, women, and community leaders in the rural settings of Jimma Zone southwest Ethiopia and in the capital city, Addis Ababa. Data were captured using voice recorders, and field notes were transcribed verbatim from the local languages into English language. Key categories and thematic frameworks were identified using the health belief model as a framework, and presented in narratives using the respondents own words as an illustration.
Participants had very low awareness of cervical cancer. However, once the symptoms were explained, participants had a high perception of the severity of the disease. The etiology of cervical cancer was thought to be due to breaching social taboos or undertaking unacceptable behaviors. As a result, the perceived benefits of modern treatment were very low, and various barriers to seeking any type of treatment were identified, including limited awareness and access to appropriate health services. Women with cervical cancer were excluded from society and received poor emotional support. Moreover, the aforementioned factors all caused delays in seeking any health care. Traditional remedies were the most preferred treatment option for early stage of the disease. However, as most cases presented late, treatment options were ineffective, resulting in an iterative pattern of health seeking behavior and alternated between traditional remedies and modern treatment methods.
Lack of awareness and health seeking behavior for cervical cancer was common due to misconceptions about the cause of the disease. Profound social consequences and exclusion were common. Access to services for diagnosis and treatment were poor for a variety of psycho-social, and health system reasons. Prior to the introduction or scale up of cervical cancer prevention programs, socio-cultural barriers and health service related factors that influence health seeking behavior must be addressed through appropriate community level behavior change communications.
Cervical cancer; Health seeking behavior; Ethiopia
For nearly three decades, the two neighboring countries of Iran and Pakistan hosted millions of Afghans. Today, Afghans still represent the largest group of refugees in the world. This feature has greatly influenced provision of health care for this population. Due to a paucity of research on the health status of Afghan refugees in Iran, this study aim to make a vista on the pattern of different common diseases among Afghan refugees in Iran and use it as an index for performance evaluation of future health services to them.
This is a retrospective cross sectional study, in which we collected the demographic and medical data between 2005 and 2010 from referrals to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) offices in Iran. We also considered a comparative review of the burden of disease estimates by the World Health Organization (WHO) for Afghanistan and Iran.
Total numbers of referrals were 23,152 with 52.6% Female and 47.66% male. 29% were 0–14 years of age, 54% were 15–59, and 17% were 60+. The most common health referral for females and males (0–14) was perinatal diseases (15.16%, 15.2%, respectively). In the females (15–59) it was ophthalmic diseases (13.65%), and for males it was nephropathies (21.4%), and in both sexes (60+) age range it was ophthalmic diseases (21.3%, 19.9%, respectively). The largest ethnic group of afghan refugees in this study was Hazara (55%) followed by Tajik (14%), Fars (12%), Sadat (9%), and 10% others. Ophthalmic diseases were the major cause of referrals by Hazara, Tajik, Fars, and Sadat groups with 26%, 20%, 26%, and 27% respectively. Referrals by pashtun group were mostly for neoplasms (17%), among Uzbek group it was nephropathies (26%), and in Baluch group Hematopoietic disorders (25%).
These data indicate higher referral rate for women 15–59 years of old and people in 60+ with ophthalmic diseases, neoplasms, and nephropathies. Even given certain intrinsic limitations of such a study, we believe these unique findings are worth further explanation. This implies the need for public health researchers to pursue prospective studies in these areas.
Refugee; Health status; Ethnicity
Perceived discrimination is related to poor health and has been offered as one explanation for the persistence of health inequalities in some societies. In this study, we explore the prevalence and correlates of perceived discrimination in a large, multiracial Brazilian metropolitan area.
The study uses secondary analysis of a regionally representative household survey conducted in 2010 (n=12,213). Bivariate analyses and multiple logistic regression assess the magnitude and statistical significance of covariates associated with reports of any discrimination and with discrimination in specific settings, including when seeking healthcare services, in the work environment, in the family, in social occasions among friends or in public places, or in other situations.
Nearly 9% of the sample reported some type of discrimination. In multivariable models, reports of any discrimination were higher among people who identify as black versus white (OR 1.91), higher (OR 1.21) among women than men, higher (OR 1.33) among people in their 30’s and lower (OR 0.63) among older individuals. People with many health problems (OR 4.97) were more likely to report discrimination than those with few health problems. Subjective social status (OR 1.23) and low social trust (OR 1.27) were additional associated factors. Perceived discrimination experienced while seeking healthcare differed from all other types of discrimination, in that it was not associated with skin color, social status or trust, but was associated with sex, poverty, and poor health.
There appear to be multiple factors associated with perceived discrimination in this population that may affect health. Policies and programs aimed at reducing discrimination in Brazil will likely need to address this wider set of interrelated risk factors across different populations.
A recent health reform was implemented in Chile (the AUGE reform) with the objective of reducing the socioeconomic gaps to access healthcare. This reform did not seek to eliminate the private insurance system, which coexists with the public one, but to ensure minimum conditions of access to the entire population, at a reasonable cost and with a quality guarantee, to cover an important group of health conditions. This paper’s main objective is to enquire what has happened with the use of several healthcare services after the reform was fully implemented.
Concentration and Horizontal Inequity indices were estimated for the use of general practitioners, specialists, emergency room visits, laboratory and x-ray exams and hospitalization days. The change in such indices (pre and post-reform) was decomposed, following Zhong (2010). A “mean effect” (how these indices would change if the differential use in healthcare services were evenly distributed) and a “distribution effect” (how these indices would change with no change in average use) were obtained.
Changes in concentration indices were mainly due to mean effects for all cases, except for specialists (where “distribution effect” prevailed) and hospitalization days (where none of these effects prevailed over others). This implies that by providing more services across socioeconomic groups, less inequality in the use of services was achieved. On the other hand, changes in horizontal inequity indices were due to distribution effects in the case of GP, ER visits and hospitalization days; and due to mean effect in the case of x-rays. In the first three cases indices reduced their pro-poorness implying that after the reform relatively higher socioeconomic groups used these services more (in relation to their needs). In the case of x-rays, increased use was responsible for improving its horizontal inequity index.
The increase in the average use of healthcare services after the AUGE reform has not always led to improved equity in the use of such services in most services. This indicates that there are still barriers to the equitable use of healthcare services (e.g. insufficient medical human resources, financial barriers, capacity constraints, etc.) that have remained after the reform.
Equity; Inequality; Healthcare use; Chile; Household surveys
Capacity building has been employed in international health and development sectors to describe the process of ‘experts’ from more resourced countries training people in less resourced countries. Hence the concept has an implicit power imbalance based on ‘expert’ knowledge. In 2011, a health research strengthening workshop was undertaken at Atoifi Adventist Hospital, Solomon Islands to further strengthen research skills of the Hospital and College of Nursing staff and East Kwaio community leaders through partnering in practical research projects. The workshop was based on participatory research frameworks underpinned by decolonising methodologies, which sought to challenge historical power imbalances and inequities. Our research question was, “Is research capacity strengthening a two-way process?”
In this qualitative study, five Solomon Islanders and five Australians each responded to four open-ended questions about their experience of the research capacity strengthening workshop and activities: five chose face to face interview, five chose to provide written responses. Written responses and interview transcripts were inductively analysed in NVivo 9.
Six major themes emerged. These were: Respectful relationships; Increased knowledge and experience with research process; Participation at all stages in the research process; Contribution to public health action; Support and sustain research opportunities; and Managing challenges of capacity strengthening. All researchers identified benefits for themselves, their institution and/or community, regardless of their role or country of origin, indicating that the capacity strengthening had been a two-way process.
The flexible and responsive process we used to strengthen research capacity was identified as mutually beneficial. Using community-based participatory frameworks underpinned by decolonising methodologies is assisting to redress historical power imbalances and inequities and is helping to sustain the initial steps taken to establish a local research agenda at Atoifi Hospital. It is our experience that embedding mutuality throughout the research capacity strengthening process has had great benefit and may also benefit researchers from more resourced and less resourced countries wanting to partner in research capacity strengthening activities.
Capacity building; Research capacity strengthening; Health research; Solomon Islands; Atoifi Adventist Hospital; Mutuality
Health and functional capacity have improved especially in Western countries over the past few decades. Nevertheless, the positive secular trend has not been able to decrease an uneven distribution of health. The main aim of this study was to follow-up changes in functional capacity among the same people in six years time and to detect whether the possible changes vary according to socio-economic position (SEP). In addition, it is of interest whether health behaviours have an effect on these possible changes.
This longitudinal follow-up study consisted of 1,898 individuals from three birth cohorts (1926–1930, 1936–40, 1946–50) who took part in clinical check-ups and answered to a survey questionnaire in 2002 and 2008. A sub-scale of physical functioning from the RAND-36 was used to measure functional capacity. Education and adequacy of income were used as indicators of socio-economic position. Repeated-measures ANOVA was used as a main method of analysis.
Physical functioning in 2002 and 2008 was poorest among those men and women belonging to the oldest cohort. Functional capacity deteriorated in six years among men in the oldest cohort and among women in all three cohorts. Socio-economic disparities in functional capacity among ageing people existed. Especially lower adequacy of income was most consistently associated with poorer functional capacity. However, changes in functional capacity by socio-economic position remained the same or even narrowed independent of health behaviours.
Socio-economic disparities in physical functioning are mainly incorporated in the level of functioning at the baseline. No widening socioeconomic disparities in functional capacity exist. Partly these disparities even seem to narrow with ageing.
Functional capacity; Socio-economic position; Ageing; Longitudinal
Social factors have been proved to be main determinants of individuals’ health. Recent studies have also analyzed the contribution of some of those factors, such as education and job status, to socioeconomic inequalities in health. The aim of this paper is to provide new evidence about the factors driving socioeconomic inequalities in health for the Spanish population by including housing deprivation and social interactions as health determinants.
Cross-sectional study based on the Spanish sample of European Statistics on Income and Living Conditions (EU-SILC) for 2006. The concentration index measuring income-related inequality in health is decomposed into the contribution of each determinant. Several models are estimated to test the influence of different regressors for three proxies of ill-health.
Health inequality favouring the better-off is observed in the distribution of self-assessed health, presence of chronic diseases and presence of limiting conditions. Inequality is mainly explained, besides age, by social factors such as labour status and financial deprivation. Housing deprivation contributes to pro-rich inequality in a percentage ranging from 7.17% to 13.85%, and social interactions from 6.16% to 10.19%. The contribution of some groups of determinants significantly differs depending on the ill-health variable used.
Health inequalities can be mostly reduced or shaped by policy, as they are mainly explained by social determinants such as labour status, education and other socioeconomic conditions. The major role played on health inequality by variables taking part in social exclusion points to the need to focus on the most vulnerable groups.
H51, I14, I18
Health inequalities; Equity; Housing deprivation; Social interactions; Social exclusion; Spain
Sri Lanka is a country that is expected to face a high burden of diabetes mellitus (DM). There is a paucity of data on social and demographic determinants of DM, especially in the plantation sector.
To describe social and economic correlates and inequalities of DM in Kalutara District.
A cross sectional descriptive study was carried out among adults over the age of 35 years. A sample of 1300 individuals was selected using stratified random cluster sampling method from 65 Grama Niladari Divisions (GND), which were representative of urban, rural and plantation sectors. Twenty households were randomly selected from each division and one adult was randomly selected from each household. Data were collected using a pre-tested questionnaire. Fasting plasma blood sugar of ≥126mg/dl was used to define DM. Significance of prevalence of diseases and risk factors across different socio-economic strata were determined by chi square test for trend.
Of 1234 adults who were screened (628 males), 202 (14.7%) had DM. Higher DM proportions (16.1%) were seen in the highest income quintile and in those educated up to Advanced Levels (AL) and above (17.3%). Prevalence in the urban, rural and plantation sectors were 23.6%, 15.5% and 8.5% respectively. Prevalence among Sinhalese, Tamils and Muslims were 14.4%, 29.0% and 20.0% respectively. There was a gradient in prevalence according to the unsatisfactory basic needs index of the GND with the highest proportion (20.7%) observed in the richest GND. The highest social status quintile demonstrated the highest proportion (17.4%) with diabetes mellitus.
There is a higher prevalence of diabetes mellitus in the more affluent and educated segments of society. There is also a higher prevalence among urban compared to rural and estates. Sri Lanka is in an early stage of the epidemic where the wealthy people are at a higher risk of DM.
Prevalence of diabetes mellitus; Social determinants of diabetes mellitus; Diabetes in plantation sector
Equitable access to health care is a key health systems goal, and is a particular concern in low-income countries. In Kenya, public facilities are an important resource for the poor, but little is known on the equity of service provision. This paper assesses whether poorer areas have poorer health services by investigating associations between public facility characteristics and the poverty level of the area in which the facility is located.
Data on facility characteristics were collected from a nationally representative sample of public health centers and dispensaries across all 8 provinces in Kenya. A two-stage cluster randomized sampling process was used to select facilities. Univariate associations between facility characteristics and socioeconomic status (SES) of the area in which the facility was located were assessed using chi-squared tests, equity ratios and concentration indices. Indirectly standardized concentration indices were used to assess the influence of SES on facility inputs and service availability while controlling for facility type, province, and remoteness.
For most indicators, we found no indication of variation by SES. The clear exceptions were electricity and laboratory services which showed evidence of pro-rich inequalities, with equity ratios of 3.16 and 3.43, concentration indices of 0.09 (p<0.01) and 0.05 (p=0.01), and indirectly standardized concentration ratios of 0.07 (p<0.01) and 0.05 (p=0.01). There were also some indications of pro-rich inequalities for availability of drugs and qualified staff. The lack of evidence of inequality for other indicators does not imply that availability of inputs and services was invariably high; for example, while availability was close to 90% for water supply and family planning services, under half of facilities offered delivery services or outreach.
The paper shows how local area poverty data can be combined with national health facility surveys, providing a tool for policy makers to assess the equity of input and service availability. There was little evidence of inequalities for most inputs and services, with the clear exceptions of electricity and laboratory services. However, efforts are required to improve the availability of key inputs and services across public facilities in all areas, regardless of SES.
Health equity; Facility characteristics; Access; Primary care; Poverty; Kenya
Mutual health organizations (MHO) have been implemented across Africa to increase access to healthcare and improve financial protection. Despite efforts to develop MHOs, low levels of both initial enrolment and membership renewals continue to threaten their financial viability. The purpose of this study was to map initiatives implemented to increase the pool of MHO members in Benin.
A multiple case study was conducted to assess MHOs supported by five major promoters in Benin. Three months of fieldwork resulted in 23 semi-structured interviews and two focus groups with MHO promoters, technicians, elected members, and health professionals affiliated with the MHOs. Fifteen non-structured interviews provided additional information and a valuable source of triangulation.
MHOs have adopted a wide range of initiatives targeting different entry points and involving a variety of stakeholders. Initiatives have included new types of collective health insurance packages and efforts to raise awareness by going door-to-door and organizing health education workshops. Different types of partnerships have been established to strengthen relationships with healthcare professionals and political leaders. However, the selection and implementation of these initiatives have been limited by insufficient financial and human resources.
The study highlights the importance of prioritizing sustainable strategies to increase MHO membership. No single MHO initiative has been able to resolve the issue of low membership on its own. If combined, existing initiatives could provide a comprehensive and inclusive approach that would target all entry points and include key stakeholders such as household decision-makers, MHO elected members, healthcare professionals, community leaders, governmental authorities, medical advisors, and promoters. There is a need to evaluate empirically the implementation of these interventions. Mechanisms to promote dialogue between MHO stakeholders would be useful to devise innovative strategies, avoid repeating unsuccessful ones, and develop a coordinated plan to promote MHOs.
Mutual health organization; Membership; Enrolment; Health insurance; Benin
This study aimed to measure socioeconomic inequalities in Self Assessed Health (SAH) and evaluate the determinants of such inequalities in terms of their contributions amongst the Turkish population.
We used data from the Turkish part of World Health Survey 2003 with 10,287 respondents over 18 years old. Concentration index (CI) of SAH was calculated as a measure of socioeconomic inequalities in health, and contributions of each determinant to inequality were evaluated using a decomposition method.
In total 952 participants (9.3%) rated their health status as either bad or very bad. The CI for SAH was −0.15, suggesting that suboptimal SAH was reported more by those categorised as poor. The multiple logistic regression results indicated that having secondary, primary or less than primary school education, not being married and being in the lowest wealth quintile, significantly increased the risk of having poor SAH. The largest contributions to inequality were attributed to education level (70.7%), household economic status (9.7%) and geographical area lived in (8.4%).
The findings indicate that socioeconomic inequalities measured by SAH are apparent amongst the Turkish population. Education and household wealth were the greatest contributing factors to SAH inequality. These inequalities need to be explicitly addressed and vulnerable subgroups should be targeted to reduce the socioeconomic disparities.
Self assessed health; Socioeconomic inequality; Decomposition method; Turkey