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Health financing reform, which began in 2008, has been deemed successful at a gathering of health professionals from around Ethiopia.

The federal program was designed to improve the quality of health service, waive fees for lower income people to make health care accessible and provide initiatives for improved heath institutions.

Participants at the third national experience sharing and networking workshop on health care financing, which was concluded last Friday, laud the reform measures taken.  

“The project has created a momentum of change in the health care service of the country. It has enabled many health care facilities to improve their service and facilities tremendously,” argued many participants who presented their respective institution’s best practices.

Health facilities in seven regional states and two city administrations are currently implementing revenue retention and utilization, a new fee waiver system and exempted health services, user fee revision, establishment of private wings in public hospitals and outsourcing of non-clinical services as a part of the Health Financing Reform. The two remaining regions where the reform has not taken place are Afar and Somali.

Private Wing is an incentive mechanism aimed at raising the revenue of health practitioners in public health facilities so as to retain them from leaving the country in search for better pay. The practitioners are allowed to engage in private health services using public health institutions medical facilities.

Currently, 31 hospitals in the country are implementing the private wing approach to health service. The revenue obtained is distributed among health service practitioners (70 percent), supporting staff (15 percent) and the remaining 15 percent to the hospital.

According to the information obtained from United State Agency for International Development (USAID), 82 percent of health facilities in the country are utilizing their retained revenue for health quality improvement activities like procurement of drugs and medical supplies, improving laboratory service and improved infection control activities.

Over the past 10 years, Ethiopia has moved into complex health financing issues; from user fees, fee waivers and exemption policies to health facility governance.  Ethiopia is also introducing social health insurance for the formal sector and community based health insurance for informal and rural population. The community based health insurance scheme is currently in a pilot stage in 13 Woredas spanning over four of the major regions of the country; Amhara, Oromiya, SNNP and Tigray Regional States.

USAID financed the implementation of the health financing reform.