Governments Should Focus On Providing Poor Citizens Cost-Effective Health Interventions, Maintaining Quality Standards

LiveMint: Reasons to invest in health: an OECD perspective
Stefan Kapferer, deputy secretary general of the OECD

“Investing in the health system not only saves lives, it is also a crucial investment in the wider economy. … OECD’s experience is that additional [health] expenditure places pressure on scarce resources. With only so many doctors, nurses, health workers, and physical facilities at a moment in time, higher spending means higher prices as well as more services. Some of the most successful examples of expanding coverage among middle-income countries in recent years have addressed this challenge by defining a limited set of essential, cost-effective services. … To this end, … governments should be incentivized to expand health coverage to the poor, focusing on cost-effective interventions. … Governments also need to work closely together so that minimum quality standards are maintained, and specialist resources are used efficiently. … [F]unding can be linked to cost-effective interventions, such as preventive and primary care activities, rather than less cost-effective (but more visible, and therefore more politically attractive) interventions, such as construction of new hospitals” (12/16).