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Geneva: When it comes to health finance, evidence is key

This blog is co-authored by Gina Lagomarsino, Managing Director for Results for Development, and Simon Wright, Head of Child Survival for Save the Children UK

This week in Geneva, the global community has gathered for the 66th World Health Assembly. As we recently passed the 1000-day countdown to the end of the current Millennium Development Goals, the post-MDG framework is at the top of this year’s agenda.

Over the past 3 years, Universal Healthcare Coverage (UHC) has been gaining traction as an overarching framework for the post-2015 development agenda. In 2010, The World Health Organization (WHO) published the World Health Report on Health Financing. In 2011, the United Nations passed a Resolution on UHC.

In 2012, Thailand hosted the 2012 PMAC on UHC, and at last year’s WHA Dr. Margaret Chan called UHC “the single most important tool in public health.” Key agencies such as the WHO, the World Bank, the ILO, prominent universities that advise them and most importantly, the countries themselves, have committed to and are moving toward UHC, with innovative models and illuminating experimentation.

However, as UHC continues to gain traction with a global audience, countries are struggling to navigate their own political and legal frameworks to determine the best way forward with limited resources and capacity for implementation.

Increasing the use of evidence

There is a growing volume of literature on health financing as UHC gains momentum across low- and middle-income countries, yet there is often a disconnect between policy and the evidence. In order to increase the accessibility of peer-reviewed journal evidence for a range of stakeholders engaging in the policy process, Save the Children UK (SCUK) and Results for Development Institute (R4D) are partnering to make evidence more available to policymakers, practitioners, researchers, civil society and other stakeholders.

In May 2013, SCUK and R4D will merge UHC Forward and the Equitable Health Financing (EHF) tool to increase the use of evidence in the design and implementation of health-financing reforms. Both platforms aim to make evidence and information related to health financing and UHC more accessible. As such, UHC Forward provides a perfect partner for the Equitable Health Financing tool.

Equitable Health Financing Tool

The EHF tool is based on a systematic review of the literature, followed by a thematic analysis to summarise the impact of 7 common health-financing mechanisms on 5 common health system goals: increase use, improve quality, promote equity, generate revenue and reduce poverty. Eleven country indicators were used to provide information on the relevance of each study to a user’s context. The e-tool provides interactive graphical summaries that allow users to assess relevant studies, the heterogeneity of evidence, where key evidence is lacking and how closely the evidence matches their own context.

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