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What conditions enable decentralization to improve the health system? Qualitative analysis of perspectives on decision space after 25 years of devolution in the Philippines

Liwanag, Harvy Joy and Wyss, Kaspar. (2018) What conditions enable decentralization to improve the health system? Qualitative analysis of perspectives on decision space after 25 years of devolution in the Philippines. PLoS ONE, 13 (11). e0206809.

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Abstract

Decentralization is promoted as a strategy to improve health system performance by bringing decision-making closer to service delivery. Some studies have investigated if decentralization actually improves the health system. However, few have explored the conditions that enable it to be effective. To determine these conditions, we have analyzed the perspectives of decision-makers in the Philippines where devolution, one form of decentralization, was introduced 25 years ago.; Drawing from the "decision space" approach, we interviewed 27 decision-makers with an average of 23.6 years of working across different levels of the Philippine government health sector and representing various local settings. Qualitative analysis followed the "Framework Method." Conditions that either enable or hinder the effectiveness of decentralization were identified by exploring decision-making in five health sector functions.; These conditions include: for planning, having a multi-stakeholder approach and monitoring implementation; for financing and budget allocation, capacities to raise revenues at local levels and pooling of funds at central level; for resource management, having a central level capable of augmenting resource needs at local levels and a good working relationship between the local health officer and the elected local official; for program implementation and service delivery, promoting innovation at local levels while maintaining fidelity to national objectives; and for monitoring and data management, a central level capable of ensuring that data collection from local levels is performed in a timely and accurate manner.; The Philippine experience suggests that decentralization is a long and complex journey and not an automatic solution for enhancing service delivery. The role of the central decision-maker (e.g. Ministry of Health) remains important to assist local levels unable to perform their functions well. It is policy-relevant to analyze the conditions that make decentralization work and the optimal combination of decentralized and centralized functions that enhance the health system.
Faculties and Departments:09 Associated Institutions > Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute (Swiss TPH)
09 Associated Institutions > Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute (Swiss TPH) > Department of Swiss Centre for International Health (SCIH) > Health Systems Support (Prytherch)
UniBasel Contributors:Wyss, Kaspar and Liwanag, Harvy Joy and Liwanag, Harvy Joy
Item Type:Article, refereed
Article Subtype:Research Article
Publisher:Public Library of Science
e-ISSN:1932-6203
Note:Publication type according to Uni Basel Research Database: Journal article
Language:English
Identification Number:
Last Modified:22 Nov 2018 13:43
Deposited On:22 Nov 2018 13:43

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