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PublicationHealth Policy Research in South Asia : Building Capacity for Reform(Washington, DC: World Bank, 2003-08) Yazbeck, Abdo S.; Yazbeck, Abdo S.; Peters, David H.The richness of the research papers in this volume makes it difficult to quickly capture the main themes and implications of their research. But three repeated themes can be highlighted: equality of public spending, the role of the private sector, and the role of consumers. On the theme of equality in public expenditures, research in Bangladesh, India, Nepal, and Sri Lanka shows that in some parts of South Asia-such as south India and Sri Lanka-governments do a much better job of distributing subsidies in the health sector than other regions. The research overwhelmingly documents the dominance of the private sector in Bangladesh and India and finds a very strong private sector in Sri Lanka. The research also highlights different policy instruments available to the government for working with the private sector to achieve health sector outcomes. A third general theme is the role of consumers and the mechanisms available to them to influence health services delivery. The authors in this volume have supported the belief that individuals and households can make a difference in how health services are delivered. While the three themes summarized above cut across several of the chapters in this volume, a more basic theme underlies all the chapters and is the main motivation for conducting health policy research. That theme is that empirical research can and should challenge basic assumptions about the health sector and will provide policymakers some of the tools needed to improve and monitor the performance of the sector. PublicationHIV/AIDS in Latin American Countries : The Challenges Ahead(Washington, DC: World Bank, 2003) Garcia Abreu, Anabela; Noguer, Isabel; Cowgill, KarenHIV/AIDS in Latin America falls within the framework of a low endemic setting. In the majority of the countries, the epidemic is still concentrated in high-risk populations: men who have sex with men (MSM), injecting drug users (IDUs), commercial sex workers (CSWs), prisoners, and people with sexually transmitted infections (STIs). The exceptions are Honduras and southeastern Brazil, where the epidemic has reached the general population. Heterosexual sex is the primary mode of transmission in Central America, with sex between men predominating in South America, and injecting drug use playing a significant role in the Southern Cone. Survey respondents also identified other populations with increased vulnerability in which interventions would be crucial-young people and women. Although the number of men living with AIDS outweighs the number of women in all countries, the gender gap is closing, and in some countries, the effect of AIDS on rural communities is increasing rapidly. In low endemic settings, the main priority is the highest risk groups, and activities to address HIV/AIDS should be focused on (1) strengthening efforts to prevent new infections in these populations, and (2) providing care and support strategies, which in turn create incentives for early detection of infection and/or risky behavior. Epidemiological surveillance plays a key role in the control of the epidemic through the measurement of frequency, distribution, and evolution of HIV/AIDS among populations; identification of high-risk groups; and evaluation of the effectiveness of prevention efforts. PublicationPrivate Participation in Health Services(Washington, DC: World Bank, 2003) Harding, April; Preker, Alexander S.; Harding, April; Preker, Alexander S.Private participation in health services is often a controversial issue, although many countries already make use of private services to further aims in health care. The book draws on a wide range of country experience to provide a judicious blend of practical advice and useful information on health services privatization issues. It discuses how to assess the potential for private sector involvement, how to engage in contracting with the private sector for health services, and how to regulate the sector. It also provides advice on what to do when key information is not there: a crucial element of any strategy, especially in developing countries where data and information sources are scarce. With the decline of ideology, politicians have grown increasingly fond of the dictum "What is best is what works." This book is an excellent lesson on what works in health care, or more precisely, on how to make what works work better, especially with respect with to the involvement of the private sector. Only with a good public-private mix can we achieve our goal of improving health care for all.