From Universal Health Coverage services packages to budget appropriation: the long journey to implementation

Essential packages of health services (EPHS) potentially contribute to universal health coverage (UHC) financing through several pathways. Generally, expectations on what an EPHS can achieve for health financing are high, yet stakeholders rarely spell out mechanisms to reach desired outcomes. This paper analyses how EPHS relate to the three health financing functions (revenue raising, risk pooling and purchasing) and to public financial management (PFM). Our review of country experiences found that using EPHS to directly leverage funds for health has rarely been effective. Indirectly, EPHS can translate into increased revenue through fiscal measures, including health taxes. Through improved dialogue with public finance authorities, health policy-makers can use EPHS or health benefit packages to communicate the value of additional public spending connected with UHC indicators. Overall, however, empirical evidence on EPHS contribution to resource mobilisation is still pending. EPHS development exercises have been more successful in advancing resource pooling across different schemes: EPHS can help comparing performance of coverage schemes, occasionally leading to harmonisation of UHC interventions and identifying gaps between health financing and service delivery. EPHS development and iterative revisions play an essential role in core strategic purchasing activities as countries develop their health technology assessment capacity. Ultimately, packages need to translate into adequate public financing appropriations through country health programme design, ensuring funding flows directly address obstacles to increased coverage.

Soucat A, Tandon A, Gonzales Pier E. From Universal Health Coverage services packages to budget appropriation: the long journey to implementation. BMJ Global Health 2023;8:e010755. doi:10.1136/ bmjgh-2022-010755