Approaching health financing policy in the European Region (2006)



This background paper was developed as a follow-up to the launch of the European health systems initiative by the fifty-fifth session of the Regional Committee (resolution EUR/RC55/R8).

Its aim is to elaborate an approach to health financing policy that countries can adapt to their own national context. This entails: (1) specification of a set of health finance policy objectives, grounded in WHO’s core values; (2) a conceptual framework for analysing the organization and functions of the health financing system; and (3) recognition of the way in which key contextual factors, particularly fiscal constraints, affect a country’s ability to attain policy objectives or implement certain types of reforms. Because of the great diversity of national contexts within the Region, there is no “blueprint” – no particular model or system of financing – that is appropriate for all countries. Hence, while the approach is fundamentally grounded in a common set of values and objectives, it permits analysis and recommendations that are country-specific and realistic. Key messages for decision-makers are to identify and address the harmful consequences of fragmentation in financing arrangements, and to ensure that the instruments of health financing policy are consistently aligned with the objectives.