Belarus: maintaining universal health care despite the global financial crisis

Belarus has by a wide margin the lowest share of out-of-pocket payments as compared to total health expenditure in the whole Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). Even if the country has not been insulated from the effects of the global financial crisis, the political commitment to providing universal health care through a budget funded health system free at the point of use has been maintained. However, the crisis has also highlighted important inefficiencies in the Belarusian health system: residual input-based financing mechanisms, excess inpatient capacity, and shortcomings in health technology assessment. This has bolstered efforts to reform payment mechanisms and budgeting processes in order to improve allocative and technical efficiency. However, incremental change rather than radical reform remains a hallmark of health care policy in Belarus.

Also despite of significant gains in population health, particularly in mother and child health, the health status of Belarusian men remains a particular source of concern. With the growing burden of non-communicable diseases this requires for more firm action in the field of public health, including greater tobacco and alcohol control.