Pharmaceutical costs dominate out-of-pocket payments in former Soviet countries, posing a severe threat to financial equity and access to health services. Nationally representative household survey data collected in Armenia, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Russia and Ukraine were analysed to compare the level of population having to forego medicines in 2001 and 2010. Subgroup analysis was conducted to assess differences between populations of different economic status, and rural and urban populations. A substantial proportion of the population did forego medicines in 2010, from 29.2% in Belarus to 72.9% in Georgia. There was a decline in people foregoing medicines between 2001 and 2010; the greatest decline was seen in Moldova [rate ratio (RR)=0.67 (0.63; 0.71)] and Kyrgyzstan [RR=0.63 (0.60; 0.67)], while very little improvement took place in countries with a higher Gross National Income (GNI) per capita and greater GNI growth over the decade such as Armenia [RR=0.92 (0.87; 0.96)] and Georgia [RR=0.95 (0.92; 0.98)]. Wealthier, urban populations have benefited more than poorer, rural households in some countries. Countries experiencing the greatest improvement over the study period were those that have implemented policies such as price controls, expanded benefits packages, and encouragement of rational prescribing. Greater commitment to pharmaceutical reform is needed to ensure that people are not forced to forego medicines.
This analysis of the Belarusian health system reviews the developments in organization and governance, health financing, healthcare provision, health reforms and health system performance since 2008. Despite considerable change since independence, Belarus retains a commitment to the principle of universal access to health care, provided free at the point of use through predominantly state-owned facilities, organized hierarchically on a territorial basis. Incremental change, rather than radical reform, has also been the hallmark of health-care policy, although capitation funding has been introduced in some areas and there have been consistent efforts to strengthen the role of primary care. Issues of high costs in the hospital sector and of weaknesses in public health demonstrate the necessity of moving forward with the reform programme. The focus for future reform is on strengthening preventive services and improving the quality and efficiency of specialist services. The key challenges in achieving this involve reducing excess hospital capacity, strengthening health-care management, use of evidence-based treatment and diagnostic procedures, and the development of more efficient financing mechanisms. Involving all stakeholders in the development of further reform planning and achieving consensus among them will be key to its success.
This analysis of the Armenian health system reviews the developments in organization and governance, health financing, healthcare provision, health reforms and health system performance since 2006. Armenia inherited a Semashko style health system on independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. Initial severe economic and sociopolitical difficulties during the 1990s affected the population health, though strong economic growth from 2000 benefited the populations health. Nevertheless, the Armenian health system remains unduly tilted towards inpatient care concentrated in the capital city despite overall reductions in hospital beds and concerted efforts to reform primary care provision. Changes in health system financing since independence have been more profound, as out-of-pocket (OOP) payments now account for over half of total health expenditure. This reduces access to essential services for the poorest households - particularly for inpatient care and pharmaceuticals - and many households face catastrophic health expenditure. Improving health system performance and financial equity are therefore the key challenges for health system reform. The scaling up of some successful recent programmes for maternal and child health may offer solutions, but require sustained financial resources that will be challenging in the context of financial austerity and the low base of public financing.
Official data on sex ratios at birth suggest a rise in sex-selective abortions in some post-Soviet states following the introduction of ultrasonography. However, questions remain about the validity of official data in these nations as well as whether the high sex ratios at birth are a statistical artifact.
Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) are the leading cause of death and disability worldwide, and their prevalence in lower- and middle-income countries (LMIC) is on the rise. The burden of chronic health expenditure born by patient households in these countries may be very high, particularly where out-of-pocket payments for health care are common. One such country where out-of-pocket payments are especially high is Ukraine. The financial impact of NCDs on households in this country has not been researched.
To assess how the frequency of low fruit and vegetable consumption has changed in countries of the former Soviet Union (FSU) between 2001 and 2010 and to identify factors associated with low consumption.
The countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States differ substantially in their post-Soviet economic development but face many of the same challenges to health and health systems. Life expectancies dropped steeply in the 1990s, and several countries have yet to recover the levels noted before the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Cardiovascular disease is a much bigger killer in the Commonwealth of Independent States than in western Europe because of hazardous alcohol consumption and high smoking rates in men, the breakdown of social safety nets, rising social inequality, and inadequate health services. These former Soviet countries have embarked on reforms to their health systems, often aiming to strengthen primary care, scale back hospital capacities, reform mechanisms for paying providers and pooling funds, and address the overall shortage of public funding for health. However, major challenges remain, such as frequent private out-of-pocket payments for health care and underdeveloped systems for improvement of quality of care.
Research suggests that since the collapse of the Soviet Union there has been a sharp growth in the use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) in some former Soviet countries. However, as yet, comparatively little is known about the use of CAM in the countries throughout this region. Against this background, the aim of the current study was to determine the prevalence of using alternative (folk) medicine practitioners in eight countries of the former Soviet Union (fSU) and to examine factors associated with their use.
Measurement of health system performance increasingly includes the views of healthcare users, yet little research has focussed on general population satisfaction with health systems. This study is the first to examine public satisfaction with health systems in the former Soviet Union (fSU). Data were derived from two related studies conducted in 2001 and 2010 in nine fSU countries, using nationally representative cross-sectional surveys. The prevalence of health system satisfaction in each country was compared for 2001 and 2010. Patterns of satisfaction were further examined by comparing satisfaction with the health system and other parts of the public sector, and the views of health care users and non-users. Potential determinants of population satisfaction were explored using logistic regression. For all countries combined, the level of satisfaction with health systems increased from 19.4% in 2001 to 40.6% in 2010, but varied considerably by country. Changes in satisfaction with the health system were similar to changes with the public sector, and non-users of healthcare were slightly more likely to report satisfaction than users. Characteristics associated with higher satisfaction include younger age, lower education, higher economic status, rural residency, better health status, and higher levels of political trust. Our results suggest that satisfaction can provide useful insight into public opinion on health system performance, particularly when used in conjunction with other subjective measures of satisfaction with government performance.
Research suggests that the prevalence of loneliness varies between countries and that feeling lonely may be associated with poorer health behaviours and outcomes. The aim of the current study was to examine the factors associated with loneliness, and the relationship between feeling lonely and health behaviours and outcomes in the countries of the former Soviet Union (FSU)--a region where loneliness has been little studied to date.
The HiT reviews are country-based reports that provide a detailed description of a health system and of policy initiatives in progress or under development. HiTs examine different approaches to the organization, financing and delivery of health services and the role of the main actors in health systems; describe the institutional framework, process, content and implementation of health and health care policies; and highlight challenges and areas that require more in-depth analysis. At independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, the Russian health system inherited an extensive, centralized Semashko system, but was quick to reform health financing by adopting a mandatory health insurance (MHI) model in 1993. MHI was introduced in order to open up an earmarked stream of funding for health care in the face of severe fiscal constraints. While the health system has evolved and changed significantly since the early 1990 s, the legacy of having been a highly centralized system focused on universal access to basic care remains. High energy prices on world markets have ensured greater macroeconomic stability, a budget surplus and improvements in living standards for most of the Russian population. However, despite an overall reduction in the poverty rate, there is a marked urban rural split and rural populations have worse health and poorer access to health services than urban populations. The increase in budgetary resources available to policy-makers have led to a number of recent federal-level health programmes that have focused on the delivery of services and increasing funding for priority areas including primary care provision in rural areas. Nevertheless, public health spending in the Russian Federation remains relatively low given the resources available. However, it is also clear that, even with the current level of financing, the performance of the health system could be improved. Provider payment mechanisms are the main obstacle to improving technical efficiency in the Russian health system, as most budget funding channelled through local government is input based. For this reason, the most recent reforms as well as legislation in the pipeline seek to ensure all health care funding is channelled through a strengthened MHI system with contracts for provider payments being made using output-based measures.
In 2004, the Moldovan government introduced mandatory (social) health insurance (MHI) with the goals of sustainable health financing and improved access to services for poorer sections of the population. The government pays contributions for non-employed groups but the self-employed, which in Moldova include many agricultural workers, must purchase their own cover. This paper describes the extent to which the Moldovan MHI scheme has managed to achieve coverage of its population and the characteristics of those who remain without cover.
In 1998, a UNICEF report quantified the large East-West gap in Europe in child mortality from external causes (injuries and violence). In the past decade, much has changed in central and eastern Europe, economically, politically and socially. This study updates the earlier analysis, tracking changes in deaths from external causes in the different parts of Europe.
The Health Systems in Transition (HiT) profiles are country-based reports that provide a detailed description of a health system and of policy initiatives in progress or under development. HiTs examine different approaches to the organization, financing and delivery of health services and the role of the main actors in health systems; describe the institutional framework, process, content and implementation of health and health care policies; and highlight challenges and areas that require more in-depth analysis. Azerbaijan gained independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. Reform of the health care system in Azerbaijan has been incremental so that organizationally it still has many of the key hallmarks of the Soviet model of health care, the Semashko system. However, relatively low levels of government expenditure on health as a proportion of gross domestic product since independence has meant that out of pocket (OOP) payments accounted for almost 62% of total health expenditure in 2007. This has serious implications for access to care and financial risk protection for vulnerable households. The private provision of services is an increasingly important part of the health system, and services provided in parallel by other ministries and state enterprises continue to account for a certain amount of health expenditure. Revenues from the recent oil boom have been used to fund large capital investment projects such as the building of new hospitals with the latest technology and the import of modern equipment. However, future plans include the strengthening of primary care and the introduction of mandatory health insurance as part of major reforms to the health financing system.
The HiT profiles are country-based reports that provide a detailed description of a health system and of policy initiatives in progress or under development. HiTs examine different approaches to the organization, financing and delivery of health services and the role of the main actors in health systems; describe the institutional framework, process, content and implementation of health and health care policies; and highlight challenges and areas that require more in-depth analysis. The Ukrainian health system has preserved the fundamental features of the Soviet Semashko system against a background of other changes, which are developed on market economic principles. The transition from centralized financing to its extreme decentralization is the main difference in the health system in comparison with the classic Soviet model. Health facilities are now functionally subordinate to the Ministry of Health, but managerially and financially answerable to the regional and local self-government, which has constrained the implementation of health policy and fragmented health financing. Health care expenditure in Ukraine is low by regional standards and has not increased significantly as a proportion of gross domestic product (GDP) since the mid 1990s; expenditure cannot match the constitutional guarantees of access to unlimited care. Although prepaid schemes such as sickness funds are growing in importance, out-of-pocket payments account for 37.4% of total health expenditure. The core challenges for Ukrainian health care therefore remain the ineffective protection of the population from the risk of catastrophic health care costs and the structural inefficiency of the health system, which is caused by the inefficient system of health care financing. Health system weaknesses are highlighted by increasing rates of avoidable mortality. Recent political impasse has complicated health system reforms and policy-makers face significant challenges in overcoming popular distrust and fatigue in the face of necessary but as yet unimplemented reforms.
The Health Systems in Transition (HiT) profiles are country-based reports that provide a detailed description of a health system and of policy initiatives in progress or under development. HiTs examine different approaches to the organization, financing and delivery of health services and the role of the main actors in health systems; describe the institutional framework, process, content and implementation of health and health care policies; and highlight challenges and areas that require more in-depth analysis. The reform of health financing in the Republic of Moldova began in earnest in 2004 with the introduction of a mandatory health insurance (MHI) system. Since then, MHI has become a sustainable financing mechanism that has improved the technical and allocative efficiency of the system as well as overall transparency. This has helped to further consolidate the prioritization of primary care in the system, which has been bas ed on a family medicine model since the 1990s. Hospital stock in the country has been reduced since independence as the country inherited a Semashko health system with excessive infrastructure, but there is still room for efficiency gains, particularly through the consolidation of specialist services in the capital city. The rationalization of duplicated specialized services, therefore, remains a key challenge facing the Moldovan health system. Other challenges include health workforce shortages (particularly in rural areas) and improving equity in financing and access to care by reducing out of pocket (OOP) payments. OOP spending on health is dominated by the cost of pharmaceuticals and this is currently a core focus of reform efforts.
To analyse compliance of cigarette packets with the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) and national legislation and the policy actions that are required in eight former Soviet Union countries.
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