The New York City-based Rockefeller Foundation has announced a five-year, $100 million initiative to expand health coverage in Africa and Asia and provide new health and financial protections for all.
Through the initiative, Transforming Health Systems, the foundation and its partners will work to establish more accessible, efficient health systems with improved financial protections and make universal health coverage an accepted, feasible, and desirable goal everywhere. Starting in Ghana, Rwanda, and Vietnam, the foundation hopes to provide governments and leaders with resources and information that helps them manage their country's health systems — and ensure that integrated eHealth systems are developed and leveraged to improve the quality, access, and affordability of health services among low-income populations. Lessons learned in the three countries will be applied to other countries with subsequent investments.
In launching the initiative, the foundation is shifting its focus from treatments and vaccines to supporting the efforts of low-income countries to address challenges in their health systems. "The Rockefeller Foundation has long been committed to public health interventions in the developing world to break bottlenecks that prevent access to quality health services," said the foundation's president, Judith Rodin. "Although it is imperative that we continue developing and delivering new vaccines and medicines, many people still cannot access a clinic [or] pay out-of-pocket costs for medication and treatment, and fall into poverty as a result. As countries begin to make significant investments in public health, [this] initiative will help ensure that investment is felt universally by supporting national efforts to provide equitable access."
In addition to promoting international research and advocacy, the initiative will advance a three-tier strategy designed to help create lasting, effective, measurable systemic health shifts at the country level. To that end, the foundation will work to enhance the professional capacity for stewardship of health systems by supporting leadership development, innovation in health, health policy and financing, and the collection of crucial data for planning and monitoring health system performance; leverage the capacity and innovation of non-state actors while enhancing the capacity of the state to regulate and contract the private sector; and support development of new partnerships and local capacity to build and leverage information technologies such as mobile phones and electronic health records.
"Despite the global economic situation, investment in health systems that provide accessible, affordable and quality care to the developing world cannot wait," said James Nyoro, managing director of the Rockefeller Foundation Africa. "With the incredible influx of funding that has gone into vertical interventions in the region, the foundation feels that now is the necessary time to build on our successes in capacity building and technological interventions to help countries develop systems that will enable new innovative drugs and treatments to reach the people truly in need."