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General country health policies

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Public policies in the health sector, together with those in other sectors, have a huge potential to secure the health of communities.[1] They represent an important complement to universal coverage and service delivery reforms. Unfortunately, in most societies, this potential is largely untapped and failure to effectively engage other sectors is widespread. Looking ahead at the diverse range of challenges associated with the growing importance of ageing, urbanization and the social determinants of health, there is, without question, a need for a greater capacity to seize this potential. That is why a drive for better public policies forms a third pillar supporting the move towards primary health care, along with universal coverage and primary care (see figure).

Primary health care reforms necessary to refocus health systems towards health for all

The following policies must be in place:

  • Systems policies – the arrangements that are needed across health systems’ building blocks to support universal coverage and effective service delivery. These are the health systems policies (related to essential drugs, technology, quality control, human resources, accreditation, etc.) on which primary care and universal coverage reforms depend.
  • Public health policies – the specific actions needed to address priority health problems through cross-cutting prevention and health promotion. Without effective public health policies that address priority health problems, primary care and universal coverage reforms would be hindered. These encompass the technical policies and programmes that provide guidance to primary care teams on how to deal with priority health problems. They also encompass the classical public health interventions from public hygiene and disease prevention to health promotion.
  • Policies in other sectors – contributions to health that can be made through intersectoral collaboration. These policies, which are of critical concern, are known as “health in all policies”, based on the recognition that a population's health can be improved through policies that are mainly controlled by sectors other than health. The health content of school curricula, industry’s policy towards gender equality, or the safety of food and consumer goods are all issues that can profoundly influence or even determine the health of entire communities and that can cut across national boundaries. It is not possible to address such issues without intensive intersectoral collaboration that gives due weight to health in all policies.


This section on General country health policies is structured as follows:

Contents

Analytical summary

The Ministry of Health promulgated a National Health Policy, 2007 in pursuit of the health sector vision. The vision of the sector is that by 2015, the sector shall have developed an efficient and effective system that will contribute to a healthy population that lives longer and has socially fulfilling lives.

The policy addresses seven thematic areas namely, organization and management, coordination, human resources, quality assurance, health financing, infrastructure development and equipment maintenance and service provision (public health and clinical services). The policy is being implemented through the National Health Strategic Plan 2008 -2013.

The national health sector strategic plan is linked to the PRSAP. This linkage turns the PRSAP into concrete MDG-based long-term results-oriented health plan. The essence of the national health sector strategic plan is to reposition the health sector to capitalise on its strategic competencies and redefine its approach to improving quality of health care.

Although there are thematic and/or programme specific policies they are all aimed to enhance the implementation of the National Health policy and strategic plan. Policy formulation in the country is mainly driven by the epidemiological profile and other eminent health problems.

Another notable policy in the health sector is the National Multi-sectorial HIV and AIDS Policy 2006 which is an all-encompassing policy for addressing HIV/AIDS issues in the country. In 2006, HIV and AIDS decentralized coordinating structures were established in line with the National Decentralisation Policy of 2005. Following various medium term HIV and AIDS plans a National Strategic Planning Framework (NSF) 2009 -2014 was developed.

The purpose of the NSF is to guide the implementation of a multi-sectorial, relevant, comprehensive and effective HIV and AIDS response. The implementation of NSF will contribute to specific measurable and important impact, outcome and output levels results as outlined in the results framework. The NSF thematic and programme areas are mainly prevention, treatment, care and support, impact mitigation and response management.


Overview of major policy reforms

Public health policies

Health system policies

Policies in other sectors and intersectoral policies

Priorities and ways forward

Others

Endnotes: References, sources, methods, abbreviations, etc.

  1. Systems thinking for health systems strengthening (pdf 1.54Mb). Geneva, World Health Organization, 2009