Health, Nutrition and Population

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  • Publication
    Health 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.