The November Action Pack is now available on the RESULTS UK website. Our conference call this month will look at how to effectively remove user fees for basic healthcare in developing countries. The call will be held on Tuesday 2 November 2010 at 8pm. To join in, contact your local group leader or the RESULTS office.
In the UK, a functioning health system that everyone can access no matter their personal resources is a fundamental value. In many developing countries, easy access and in sometimes any access to healthcare at all is rare. Poor people in these countries face many barriers to getting diagnosis and treatment for their ailments, but the most commonly-cited factor is cost as many people are just too poor to pay for health.
A system which charges ‘user fees’ is one in which patients have to pay at least some of the cost of their treatment up-front out of their own pockets. An April 2009 article in the Lancet reported that approximately 3 million child deaths could have been averted over the past 20 years had fees not been charged. In recent years many countries have removed user fees for at least some aspects of healthcare, and evaluations of these programmes shows that when user fees are removed, there is a significant increase in the use of health services. As there is also a strong association between higher use of health services and lower mortality rates among women and children, this is very exciting news.
The guest speaker on this month’s call will be Dr Sophie Witter, a respected Health Economist who has worked in Sudan, Ghana and Uganda on programmes to increase access to healthcare. Dr Witter will be able to share her practical experience with us to help us to understand how governments and donors can help to put in place sustainable alternative funding structures that can improve healthcare while also removing the financial barriers for poor people to access it.
For this month’s action, we are asking you to write a letter to your MP to ask them to ensure that the government specifically commits to assist in removing user fees to access health services in developing countries. More information about the action and the issue is available in our action sheets.