Fiscal Space for Health in Latin America and the Caribbean
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Countries that have made the most progress toward universal coverage have public expenditures in health equivalent to at least 6% of their gross domestic product (GDP), which is the percentage established in PAHO’s universal health strategy as the benchmark for the countries. However, while higher expenditure is a prerequisite, it is not enough to combat inequities and advance toward universal health. In addition to greater resources, the quality of the expenditure must be improved, reducing health system inefficiencies. Moreover, public expenditure in health should be sustainably increased in a fiscally responsible manner. The concept of fiscal space for health refers to the ability of governments to provide additional budgetary resources for the health system without affecting the financial position of the public sector or supplanting other socially necessary expenditures. Any analysis of fiscal space, therefore, will attempt to identify the prospects for increasing health expenditure in the short and medium term to address a series of clearly established health needs. These efforts are under way at a critical time in the Region of the Americas, particularly in the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean, which are engaged in a singular health system reform process. For the first time in history, these countries have formalized their intention of increasing public expenditure in health, putting themselves firmly on the path to real and effective access to health care through the universal health strategy. Without achieving basic well-being at this level, it will be impossible to improve social cohesion and social development in the countries of the Region. This publication brings together and summarizes PAHO’s studies on fiscal space for universal health in the Americas and draws on the contributions of the regional forum held in Washington, D.C. on 7-8 December 2015. With this publication, whose target audience is the technical personnel responsible for policy development, decision-makers, and authorities, PAHO hopes to contribute to the analysis and discussion of health financing policies on the path toward universal health.
Fiscal Space for Health in Latin America and the Caribbean. Washington, D.C.: Pan American Health Organization; 2020. License: CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 IGO.
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