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Public financing for health in times of COVID-19 in the Asia-Pacific Region - P4H Network

Public financing for health in times of COVID-19 in the Asia-Pacific Region

A discussion paper published by World Bank in collaboration with the Joint Learning Network, It is part of a series produced by the Health, Nutrition, and Population (HNP) Global Practice of the World Bank. The papers in this series aim to provide a vehicle for publishing preliminary results on HNP topics to encourage discussion and debate.
Abstract: Despite a rebound in economic growth following the pandemic, new geopolitical developments and macroeconomic shocks—inflation and monetary responses to inflation, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and the COVID-19 debt overhang—as well as the lingering uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic pose further challenges to sustainable public financing for health. These recent challenges are superimposed on longer-term issues—
aging, noncommunicable diseases (NCDs), climate change, and future pandemic preparedness—which are shared across the Asia-Pacific, a dynamic region ranging from small Pacific Island states to the two most populous countries in the world. Three specific health reform opportunities, with country spotlights highlighting relevant successes and remaining challenges, have been identified to improve the efficiency and equity of public
health spending (“more health for money”) while justifying “more money for health” by demonstrating its effectiveness: (i) strengthen primary health care as an efficient and equitable solution to improving health outcomes, especially in the Asia-Pacific where the burden from uncontrolled NCDs is high; (ii) leverage health taxes to reduce costly unhealthy environments and lifestyles while supporting health financing, given the
feasibility of such taxes to supplement low government revenues prevalent in the Asia-Pacific; and (iii) increase pro-poor public spending on health by improving targeting of poor and vulnerable populations with critical health services to improve health outcomes and financial protection.