Mobilizing Resources for Health: MSH at the 5th Health Systems Research Symposium

October 12, 2018

Mobilizing Resources for Health: MSH at the 5th Health Systems Research Symposium

This week, at the 5th Health System Research (HSR) Symposium in Liverpool, MSH shared some of our important work in health care financing. A common theme was using simple cost models to calculate the resources needed to provide good quality health services. This type of work is crucial to helping countries improve quality of care and access to key services as they move toward achieving universal health coverage (UHC).

MSH’s health financing presentations at HSR

MSH is a leader in planning for and modeling the costs of essential packages of health services. This week, we presented these methodologies and results, both for community health packages in Madagascar and South Sudan and health center services in Afghanistan and northern Syria. This analysis can be used in evidence-based advocacy to mobilize and advocate for resources and to help prioritize services if sufficient resources are not received.

Many low- and middle-income countries rely on a robust community health workforce, but few are comprehensive and self-sustaining and many rely heavily on external donors. Long-term community health planning is essential to helping countries fill gaps and delivering quality, affordable services closer to underserved patients. An important finding of the analysis in Madagascar and South Sudan is community health services can be highly cost-effective if they are well planned and run. They are not always cheap, however, and the available time of the community health worker should be maximized.  In terms of service packages and in the context of pushing for UHC, we found that a wide range of services is being offered, but many facilities are struggling to provide the full package; in some cases, prioritization of key services is a challenge.

MSH’s work also helps governments and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) advocate more effectively for funding for life-saving health interventions. Through the UNITAID-funded ACCESS-SMC Project, MSH led an analysis of the cost-effectiveness and cost savings of seasonal malaria chemoprevention (SMC)—a preventive therapy for malaria among children—in seven countries in the Sahel. The analysis shows that SMC is a cost-effective intervention that has averted millions of cases of childhood malaria and prevented thousands of deaths. Moreover, SMC has contributed substantial cost savings to the health system due to reduced costs of malaria diagnostics and treatment.

Another important theme is the development of strong and effective health systems in fragile and conflict states. A lesson from our work with the World Health Organization in northern Syria is that, even in very insecure environments, health systems can be built by working together. Currently in Syria, a group of six NGOs is working together to create a network where services, such as child nutrition, family planning, mental health, and care for injuries and chronic diseases, can be improved in terms of quality and made more accessible and cost-effective. MSH draws longer-term lessons from Afghanistan where systems have been developed and strengthened by the Ministry of Public Health (MOPH) with coordinated support from donors over a period of years. With assistance from MSH, the MOPH developed packages of care, which have been implemented to improve access and quality nationwide for people who most need them.

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