Collaborative Approaches and Policy Opportunities for Accelerated Progress toward Effective Disease Prevention, Care, and Control: Using the Case of Poverty Diseases to Explore Universal Access to Affordable Health Care

Front Med (Lausanne). 2017 Aug 25:4:130. doi: 10.3389/fmed.2017.00130. eCollection 2017.


Background: There is a massive global momentum to progress toward the sustainable development and universal health coverage goals. However, effective policies to health-care coverage can only emerge through high-quality services delivered to empowered care users by means of strong local health systems and a translational standpoint. Health policies aimed at removing user fees for a defined health-care package may fail at reaching desired results if not applied with system thinking.

Method: Secondary data analysis of two country-based cost-of-illness studies was performed to gain knowledge in informed decision-making toward enhanced access to care in the context of resource-constraint settings. A scoping review was performed to map relevant experiences and evidence underpinning the defined research area, the economic burden of illness.

Findings: Original studies reflected on catastrophic costs to patients because of care services use and related policy gaps. Poverty diseases such as tuberculosis (TB) may constitute prime examples to assess the extent of effective high-priority health-care coverage. Our findings suggest that a share of the economic burden of illness can be attributed to implementation failures of health programs and supply-side features, which may highly impair attainment of the global stated goals. We attempted to define and discuss a knowledge development framework for effective policy-making and foster system levers for integrated care.

Discussion: Bottlenecks to effective policy persist and rely on interrelated patterns of health-care coverage. Health system performance and policy responsiveness have to do with collaborative work among all health stakeholders. Public-private mix strategies may play a role in lowering the economic burden of disease and solving some policy gaps. We reviewed possible added value and pitfalls of collaborative approaches to enhance dynamic local knowledge development and realize integration with the various health-care silos.

Conclusion: Despite a large political commitment and mobilization efforts from funding, the global development goal of financial protection for health-newly adopted in TB control as no TB-affected household experiencing catastrophic expenditure-may remain aspirational. To enhance effective access to care for all, innovative opportunities in patient-centered and collaborative practices must be taken. Further research is greatly needed to optimize the use of locally relevant knowledge, networks, and technologies.

Keywords: evidence-based integrated care; public–private partnerships; research-based guidance; system thinking; translational research; tuberculosis; universal health coverage; use of knowledge.