The Ministry of Health in collaboration with its partners through the Directorate of Health Promotions will commence one month National Health Accounts (NHA) survey of institutions and companies.
This development was disclosed during a media briefing held at the NaNA conference hall on Tuesday.
The NHA survey is a framework for tracking financial expenditure on health in the country and providing support to various health facilities, families and communities.
The targeted institutions for the 2016 survey are donors, UN systems, embassies, Non Governmental Organisations, insurance companies, employers, and government amongst others.
According to information provided to the media by the Health Ministry, researches have shown that over the past two decades more than 100 low and middle-income countries (27 of them in Africa) have conducted NHA estimations that generated evidence for country-level policy decision-making as well as for cross-country comparisons.
The first NHA survey in The Gambia was conducted in 2007 covering the years 2002, 2003 and 2004. According to health officials, key findings of that survey largely informed the drafting of the first ever Health Financing Policy for the Ministry of Health. The second survey was conducted in 2014 covering the 2013 financial year and the results are available for evidence-based policy making.
Speaking at the briefing, the Deputy Director of Planning and Information at the Ministry of Health, Gibril Jarju, said healthcare systems in all countries including The Gambia continue to evolve in response to changing demographics and disease patterns, rapid technological advances and more and more complex financing and delivery mechanisms.
He added that in striving towards some of the common healthcare system goals of equity, efficiency and effectiveness, one of the key questions for policy makers is how much to spend on health and if it is measured in a comparable way.
“To meet the increasing demands of analysts and policymakers for such health expenditure information, a System of Health Accounts (SHA) proposed a framework for the systematic description of the financial flows related to health care,” he said, adding that the aim of the SHA is to describe the healthcare system from an expenditure perspective both for international and national purposes.
According to him, the NHA attempts to track actual spending on healthcare, meaning it does not measure commitments that have not materialised, or budgets that have not been spent or were spent in unintended ways. He noted that the tracking of actual spending provides a true picture of healthcare financing.
Modou Njai, Director of Health Promotions, called on people and companies’ participation during the survey. He added that this survey will also help them to know how much people are spending on health in the facilities, and know why they are doing it.
According to him, many countries including The Gambia are trying to institutionalise the NHA methodology so that they can carry out the exercise on a regular basis and report on health financing trends.
Vincent Mendy, the NHA focal person said healthcare systems in all countries continue to evolve in response to changing demographics and disease patterns, rapid technological advances and more complex financing and delivery mechanisms.
He added that one of the challenges faced during the survey is a lack of access to some institutions to data collectors, especially embassies, noting that over 20% of institutions either failed or were late to complete the questionnaires sent to them during the 2013 survey.
by Arfang MS Camara