Towards Universal Health Coverage – Blog by Onno Ruhl & Somil Nagpal

Blog by Onno Ruhl, Dutch national and World Bank Country Director in India, and Somil Nagpal, Senior Health Specialist. This blog was published on December 16, 2014 on the World Bank website.

Scaling up public health investments alone will not suffice. It will be equally critical to improve accountability.

On Friday, 12 December, for the first time the world celebrated universal health coverage day. On this day two years ago, the United Nations unanimously endorsed a resolution urging governments to ensure that all people can access healthcare without financial hardship.

Until now, most people in India have dug deep into their pockets to pay doctors, pharmacies and diagnostic centres. Paying in this manner—or out-of-pocket spending, as it is called—has been the norm for a long time in India but this is not how most of the world pays for healthcare. In most other countries, including some less developed ones, out-of-pocket spending is far less common than we think. It is far more likely that people pay their medical expenses in some organized manner, such as through tax-financed healthcare or some form of health insurance.

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Cheap technology to tackle corruption – Blog by Tony Verheijen

Blog by Tony Verheijen, Dutch national who is currently World Bank Country Director in Serbia, and previously Sector Manager of the Public Sector and Governance department in South Asia. This blog was published on December 15, 2014 on the World Bank website.

“Greetings! Sir, we purchased a property worth 11,000 Euros. We paid a tax for the purchase of 800 Euros and paid a bribe of 400 Euros for property registration”.

Citizens from the Pakistan Province (state) of Punjab – population of over 100 million citizens – send numerous SMS messages similar to this to Shahbaz Sharif, Chief Minister of Punjab, on a daily basis. Messages are then processed and consolidated feed-back on government services is posted on a public dashboard for everyone to see. But, more importantly, they provide Punjab’s administration (and the Chief Minister himself) with real time data about the delivery, quality, and efficiency of various public services. The key is, of course, that Sharif and his government follow up on the information they gather: fixing service delivery problems where they arise, rewarding bureaucrats for the good work and/or punish them for the lousy one.

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