Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Health Equity Funds make for healthier poor

Date:
July 7, 2011
Source:
Institute of Tropical Medicine Antwerp
Summary:
In developing countries, the poor often are confronted with insurmountable barriers to accessing health care, because they can’t pay the treatment out of their own pocket, and even public hospitals are too costly. Well developed aid programs can remediate that situation, as is proved in Cambodia, say scientists.

The team of a health equity fund discusses with a chief monk how to bring in means of the community into the fund.
Credit: Image courtesy of Institute of Tropical Medicine Antwerp

In developing countries, the poor often are confronted with insurmountable barriers to accessing health care, because they can't pay the treatment out of their own pocket, and even public hospitals are too costly. Well developed aid programs can remediate that situation, as is proved in Cambodia, say scientists from the Antwerp Instituut voor Tropische Geneeskunde (ITG). At least, when a few things are taken into consideration. For this work, researcher Por Ir earned a PhD at ITG and Vrije Universiteit Brussel.

In rich countries, the government can fund the health system directly, or subsidise the health costs of its inhabitants through the social security system. People then only pay a small lump sum. But in low and mid-income countries, the government doesn't have the money for (almost) free healthcare. Cambodia, for instance, provides public health services, where people only pay a small lump sum. But in combination with travel costs, food costs and loss of income during the stay, this public system still is unaffordable for a lot of people. Moreover, it often is of bad quality: a wage of some fifty Euros a month doesn't stimulate a government doctor to do his best; it pushes him to have a sideline. So seven treatments out of ten are given in the private sector, where treatment is better but the prices are substantially higher. In these circumstances, becoming ill is a small catastrophe, leading to debts and bitter poverty.

Many governments try to provide the poor of the poor with at least a minimal health care through special programs. Cambodia distributes vouchers (that buy you a certain service) and has Heatlh Equity Funds. These funds take care of lump sums, travel costs, food and other hospitalisation costs of the poor. They mostly are funded by international donors. Little research has been done into their effectiveness. Por Ir did more than ten years research in the field, trying to fill this gap. His conclusion: the vouchers and funds work well, though some problems remain.

How do you ensure for instance that the support goes to the poor, and not to friends and those prepared to bribe? Cambodia demonstrates it can be done: register durable goods, houses, land ownership. Such a registry makes people aware they are entitled to aid, but Por Ir found a weak spot, too: at the moment you become ill, your situation can be different from when you were registered. A quick check when people present themselves at the hospital can take care of that.

The funds work satisfactory in regions with a well functioning health service, where most people can afford a small lump sum (so the fund can focus on a manageable number of really poor), and where the funds are managed by a NGO (so lowly paid civil servants are not put to temptation).

At first the funds only paid for hospital admissions; as a consequence people directly presented at the hospitals, bypassing the first line. Now the government works to extend the coverage to family doctors and health centres.

Ir's research shows that the poor need specific care: they more often suffer from tropical infections as typhoid fever, tuberculosis, malaria, dengue; but also heart problems are very common among the poor (probably due to an imbalanced diet). Clearly overrepresented are traffic accidents and pregnancy problems.

Por Ir also signals another problem: when care for chronic diseases is almost nonexistent, you will not be able to buy it, whatever support you receive.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Institute of Tropical Medicine Antwerp. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Institute of Tropical Medicine Antwerp. "Health Equity Funds make for healthier poor." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 7 July 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/07/110707082117.htm>.
Institute of Tropical Medicine Antwerp. (2011, July 7). Health Equity Funds make for healthier poor. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/07/110707082117.htm
Institute of Tropical Medicine Antwerp. "Health Equity Funds make for healthier poor." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/07/110707082117.htm (accessed September 20, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Sierra Leone's Nationwide Ebola Curfew Underway

Sierra Leone's Nationwide Ebola Curfew Underway

Newsy (Sep. 20, 2014) Sierra Leone is locked down as aid workers and volunteers look for new cases of Ebola. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Changes Found In Brain After One Dose Of Antidepressants

Changes Found In Brain After One Dose Of Antidepressants

Newsy (Sep. 19, 2014) A study suggest antidepressants can kick in much sooner than previously thought. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Grief Affect The Immune Systems Of Senior Citizens?

Could Grief Affect The Immune Systems Of Senior Citizens?

Newsy (Sep. 19, 2014) The study found elderly people are much more likely to become susceptible to infection than younger adults going though a similar situation. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Jury Delivers Verdict in Salmonella Trial

Jury Delivers Verdict in Salmonella Trial

AP (Sep. 19, 2014) A federal jury has convicted three people in connection with an outbreak of salmonella poisoning five years ago that sickened hundreds of people and was linked to a number of deaths. (Sept. 19) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins