Follow the Money: Making the Most of Limited Health Resources

Resource Type: Brief
Authors: Megan Meline, Health Finance & Governance Project
Published: 6/29/2016

Resource Description: 

Worldwide, health systems are being asked to do more with less. In many countries, donor funds have stagnated or are declining. This sharp decline could have broad implications for the health sector— particularly Namibia’s HIV and AIDS response which relies heavily on donor resources. New and emerging threats, such as Zika and Ebola, are also testing weak and fragile health systems, such as those in Guinea and Liberia. And costly noncommunicable diseases, like diabetes and cancers, are on the rise in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs).

With the end of the MDGs and start of the new SDGS, momentum is growing for countries around the world to pursue Universal Health Coverage (UHC) reforms and to expand affordable access to health care services, without risk of financial hardship, while facing real resource constraints in the aftermath of the global economic crisis.

In short, countries need to make their limited health resources go a long way. It is a financing challenge as well as a governance one. Countries cannot manage what they cannot measure. Countries need to measure their health spending – know where the money comes from, how much is spent and where, and how it can be spent more efficiently and equitably.

Policymakers can influence public and private health spending to improve efficiency, quality, equity, and expand access to life-saving health services. To succeed, however, governments need evidence around their health financing landscape. More and more, policymakers are appreciating the value of health resource tracking –that is, a range of methods, data collection initiatives, and estimation tools aimed at measuring the flow of funds to and through the health system.


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