If we aim to achieve sustainable results in strengthening countries’ health systems – which is a prerequisite for sexual and reproductive health and rights –including the health workforce, it is crucial to expand countries’ fiscal space for health. Yet, this should not be left to individual countries alone; many countries still depend on official development assistance (ODA) for health to co-finance their health systems. However, this type of ODA is decreasing. Instead, World Bank and donor countries – the Netherlands included – spend relatively more ODA to engage and strengthen the private-for-profit sector, also in health.
Wemos believes that the international community can and should contribute more to the strengthening of countries’ health budgets. This can be done by increasing and better aligning development assistance for health with country-specific strategies on the one hand, and by reducing practices that needlessly limit government budget (for health) on the other hand.
Health financing, gender and other cross-cutting issues
When we talk about financial access to health services, we see that women are disadvantaged. Both national policies on health financing and macroeconomic policies can contribute to these gender inequalities. In countries with high out-of-pocket spending, women face extra barriers to essential health services. This is because women suffer more from constrained cash flow, and because out-of-pocket spending is often required in sexual and reproductive health services – including family planning methods – that particularly affect women, their health, career and household income.
International financing institutions, such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), also have a large impact on health policies and fiscal space for health through their advice and conditions related to loans. Wage bill ceilings in the public health sector and restrictions on the use of ODA for health worker salaries negatively affect women, who form the grand majority of health care professionals.
Therefore, we incorporate gender and equity into our analyses and evidence-building, and join up with partners to effectively advocate gender equality in health policies.
We also address cross-cutting issues like the accountability of multilateral organisations and high-income countries towards LMICs, and meaningful civil society engagement in decision-making within this programme.
Wemos calls for strengthening the pool of public resources for health