WHO South-East Asia Journal of Public Health
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Year : 2020  |  Volume : 9  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 52-54

Why do many basic packages of health services stay on the shelf? A look at potential reasons in the WHO South-East Asia Region

1 Department of Health Systems Development, World Health Organization Regional Office for South-East Asia, New Delhi, India
2 Independent consultant, Madrid, Spain
3 Independent consultant, Bristol, United Kingdom

Correspondence Address:
Mr Lluís Vinyals Torres
Department of Health Systems Development, World Health Organization Regional Office for South-East Asia, New Delhi
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DOI: 10.4103/2224-3151.282997

PMID: 32341223

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Basic packages of health services (BPHSs) are often envisaged primarily as political statements of intent to provide access to care, in an era of commitment to universal health coverage. They are often produced with little attention paid to health systems’ capacity to deliver these benefit packages or other implementation challenges. Many countries of the World Health Organization (WHO) South-East Asia Region have invested in developing BPHSs. This perspective paper reflects on the issues that do not receive enough attention when packages are developed, which can often jeopardize their implementation. Countries of the region refer to burden-of-disease assessments and consider the cost-effectiveness of the listed interventions during their BPHS design processes. Some also conduct a costing study to generate “price tags” that are used for resource mobilization. However, important implementation challenges such as weak supply-side readiness, limited scope for reallocation of existing resources and management not geared for accountability are too often ignored. Implementation and its monitoring is further hampered by the limitations of existing health information systems, which are often not ready to collect and analyse data on emerging interventions such as noncommunicable disease management. Among the countries of the WHO South-East Asia Region, those with better chances of executing their BPHSs have adapted their packages to their implementation, financing and monitoring capacities, and have considered the need for a modified service delivery model able to provide the agreed services.

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