How to Improve Access to Affordable Health Care
By Tara Newton, Communications Associate, BID Initiative
Nov 13, 2014
In support of their Healthy Means campaign, Devex published an article, “How to improve access to affordable health care,” that resonates with some of the work we are doing with the BID Initiative. The article stresses that while access and affordability are important, without strong health systems and quality service delivery with accountability and effective oversight, health care service will remain insufficient.
The article also emphasizes that services are now not only targeting individual health needs, but also making improvements to the broader health system, a diagonal rather than vertical approach. For example, in Swaziland, integration is occurring through combining reproductive health with HIV and AIDS services allowing for more efficient use of resources and a better response to community needs.
This type of integration is directly related to the BID Initiative where we are partnering with health workers to create a data-use culture. As part of the BID Initiative interventions, health workers in our demonstration countries will develop monthly dashboards to capture important indicators for facilities and district offices to assist them in monitoring progress and performance and to identify challenges or areas in need of improvement. While our focus is on immunization outcomes, the hope is that these skills will then be applied to other areas of their work in the broader health system, leading to improved overall health outcomes.
Additionally, funding is mentioned as a primary concern for sustainability and there’s a shift towards “country ownership” in health system strengthening. The BID Initiative is country-led, country owned, and enlists input from country partners through our BID Learning Network to develop a solution that is sustainable, can be packaged, and then replicated in other countries.
Furthermore, the article discusses the importance of local communities having a seat at the table when determining how to effectively strengthen health systems. Beyond the BID Learning Network, we also engage the local community through a User Advisory Group in Arusha and soon, a group will be established in Livingstone. Input from local communities is essential since different communities will have varying health needs. Moreover, we need to assure we are addressing the problems that are most pressing for the local community and providing solutions that they want and will actually put into practice. Undoubtedly, a people-centered approach is at the heart of the BID Initiative’s approach to improving immunization outcomes, which will lead to broader health systems strengthening.