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      Towards people-centred health systems: a multi-level framework for analysing primary health care governance in low- and middle-income countries


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          Although there is evidence that non-government health system actors can individually or collectively develop practical strategies to address primary health care (PHC) challenges in the community, existing frameworks for analysing health system governance largely focus on the role of governments, and do not sufficiently account for the broad range of contribution to PHC governance. This is important because of the tendency for weak governments in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). We present a multi-level governance framework for use as a thinking guide in analysing PHC governance in LMICs. This framework has previously been used to analyse the governance of common-pool resources such as community fisheries and irrigation systems. We apply the framework to PHC because, like common-pool resources, PHC facilities in LMICs tend to be commonly owned by the community such that individual and collective action is often required to avoid the ‘tragedy of the commons’—destruction and degradation of the resource resulting from lack of concern for its continuous supply. In the multi-level framework, PHC governance is conceptualized at three levels, depending on who influences the supply and demand of PHC services in a community and how: operational governance (individuals and providers within the local health market), collective governance (community coalitions) and constitutional governance (governments at different levels and other distant but influential actors). Using the example of PHC governance in Nigeria, we illustrate how the multi-level governance framework offers a people-centred lens on the governance of PHC in LMICs, with a focus on relations among health system actors within and between levels of governance. We demonstrate the potential impact of health system actors functioning at different levels of governance on PHC delivery, and how governance failure at one level can be assuaged by governance at another level.

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          The tragedy of the commons. The population problem has no technical solution; it requires a fundamental extension in morality.

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            What Led to the Nigerian Boycott of the Polio Vaccination Campaign?

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              Framework for assessing governance of the health system in developing countries: gateway to good governance.

              Governance is thought to be a key determinant of economic growth, social advancement and overall development, as well as for the attainment of the MDGs in low- and middle-income countries. Governance of the health system is the least well-understood aspect of health systems. A framework for assessing health system governance (HSG) at national and sub-national levels is presented, which has been applied in countries of the Eastern Mediterranean. In developing the HSG framework key issues considered included the role of the state vs. the market; role of the ministries of health vs. other state ministries; role of actors in governance; static vs. dynamic health systems; and health reform vs. human rights-based approach to health. Four existing frameworks were considered: World Health Organization's (WHO) domains of stewardship; Pan American Health Organization's (PAHO) essential public health functions; World Bank's six basic aspects of governance; and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) principles of good governance. The proposed HSG assessment framework includes the following 10 principles-strategic vision, participation and consensus orientation, rule of law, transparency, responsiveness, equity and inclusiveness, effectiveness and efficiency, accountability, intelligence and information, and ethics. The framework permits 'diagnoses of the ills' in HSG at the policy and operational levels and points to interventions for its improvement. In the case of Pakistan, where the framework was applied, a positive aspect was the growing participation and consensus orientation among stakeholders, while weaknesses were identified in relation to strategic vision, accountability, transparency, effectiveness and efficiency and rule of law. In using the HSG framework it needs to be recognized that the principles are value driven and not normative and are to be seen in the social and political context; and the framework relies on a qualitative approach and does not follow a scoring or ranking system. It does not directly address aid effectiveness but provides insight on the ability to utilize external resources and has the ability to include the effect of global health governance on national HSG as the subject itself gets better crystallized. The improved performance of the ministries of health and state health departments is at the heart of this framework. The framework helps raise the level of awareness among policymakers of the importance of HSG. The road to good governance in health is long and uneven. Assessing HSG is only the first step; the challenge that remains is to carry out effective governance in vastly different institutional contexts.

                Author and article information

                Health Policy Plan
                Health Policy Plan
                Health Policy and Planning
                Oxford University Press
                September 2014
                11 September 2014
                11 September 2014
                : 29
                : Suppl 2 , Science and Practice of People-Centred Health Systems
                : ii29-ii39
                1National Primary Health Care Development Agency, Abuja, Nigeria, 2School of Public Health, University of Sydney, Australia, 3The George Institute for Global Health, University of Sydney, Australia and 4Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto, Canada
                Author notes
                *Corresponding author. National Primary Health Care Development Agency, PMB 367, Area 11, Garki, Abuja, Nigeria. E-mail: seyeabimbola@ 123456hotmail.com
                Published by Oxford University Press in association with The London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine © The Author 2014; all rights reserved.

                This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted reuse, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

                : 25 June 2014
                Page count
                Pages: 11
                Original Articles

                Social policy & Welfare
                collective governance,constitutional governance,health system actors,health system governance,low- and middle-income countries,nigeria,operational governance,people-centred health systems,primary health care


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