Publication: A Political Economy Analysis of Turkey's Health Transformation Program

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Bump, Jesse B.
Powers Sparkes, Susan
Beginning in 2003, Turkey initiated a series of reforms under the Health Transformation Program (HTP) that over the past decade have reshaped the health system. Understanding the political economy of this process is important for the future of Universal Health Coverage (UHC) in Turkey, and also for many other countries and the development agencies that assist them. This report analyzes the historical context and complex political economy challenges of the reform. Our findings are based on stakeholder interviews and a review of literature. First, we identified five contextual factors that were important in bringing health reform to the policy agenda in Turkey, and were helpful in sustaining the reform during adoption and implementation: (1) a long history of reform plans and attempts; (2) fiscal pressure to reform the social sectors; (3) public support for health reform; (4) strong economic growth; and (5) favorable demographic conditions. Second, we assessed four political economy challenges central to the reform and the strategies used by the Ministry of Health (MoH) to overcome them. First, the MoH built public support for reform among the broad base of beneficiaries by focusing on highly visible and fast changes. Second, the MoH overcame well-organized interest group opposition to the reforms by splintering their support or delegitimizing their views. Third, Turkey asserted its own domestic priorities over those of the IMF and World Bank in cases of direct conflict. Fourth, the MoH circumvented potential political and institutional opposition to the large expansion of benefits and coverage through a carefully sequenced adoption and implementation plan that could be executed mostly without requiring the support of other ministries. This analysis also highlights important trade-offs made by the MoH with respect to the redistribution of resources, quality of care, financial sustainability, and physician satisfaction, which will all have to be considered as Turkey enters its next phase of health system development.
Bump, Jesse B.; Powers Sparkes, Susan. 2014. A Political Economy Analysis of Turkey's Health Transformation Program. © World Bank, Washington, DC. License: CC BY 3.0 IGO.
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