Essential Packages of Health Services in 24 Countries: Findings from a Cross-Country Analysis

Resource Type: Report
Authors: Jenna Wright, Jeanna Holtz
Published: June 2017

Resource Description:

Every country has finite resources for providing health care to its citizens. Policymakers are faced with a need to determine where to target limited resources. Explicitly prioritizing certain health care services and technologies can enable low- and middle-income countries to reach key development and public health goals (Glassman et al 2016). Certain health care interventions generate greater positive outcomes than others, which in turn lead to improvements in a country’s poverty, disease, or inequity burden. Once policymakers define priority services, they also must ensure that the services are available to all who need them.

Governments employ different mechanisms to define priority services and ensure that the services are available to all who need them. One mechanism is through an essential package of health services (EPHS). A second mechanism is through a publicly funded health benefit plan (HBP), such as a social health insurance scheme. An EPHS represents a broad policy statement, while an HBP specifies an explicit set of services and the cost sharing requirements for beneficiaries to access those services. Both mechanisms can be considered incremental measures to move towards universal health coverage. However, further investigation is needed to determine the extent to which EPHS’s and HBP’s align and how they are formulated, modified, and implemented.

This study was performed in two parts. The first part involved an analysis of EPHS’s in the 24 Ending Preventable Child and Maternal Deaths (EPCMD) countries, resulting in 24 country snapshots, each of which serves as a resource to policymakers, researchers, and the international community at large.  The second part of the study involved a comparison of the EPHS and the major HBP(s) in each of the 24 countries, where relevant. These comparisons are presented in briefs for 17 countries. The cross-country analytic report above compares how different governments define and use an EPHS and related policies and programs to improve the breadth and depth of health service coverage.

Essential Health Services Country Series


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