IRIN Examines How User Fees Have Kept Most Vulnerable From Accessing Healthcare

IRIN examines how fees for medical services have kept poor populations from accessing services, in light of the recent announcement by British Prime Minister Gordon Brown that he was launching a program aimed at greatly reducing such fees in Malawi, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Ghana, Nepal and Burundi.

“The role of user fees in healthcare has long been a subject of debate in development policy,” IRIN writes. “Initially supported by the World Bank and International Monetary Fund as a way to finance healthcare costs in the 1980s, Brown referred to the fees as ‘bad development advice and bad development policy.'” The article includes information about the correlation between user fees and high child and maternal mortality rates as well as optimism that Brown’s work will have an “immediate impact on healthcare” (9/24).

In a separate story on user fees, IRIN examines how eliminating user fees is only one step towards improving the poor’s access to healthcare. The article addresses the need for “high-level political commitment” as well as “sustained financial and technical support,” and examines “the state of health care” in Sierra Leone, Burundi and Mozambique (9/24).