Image © UNRWA 2016 Photo by Mohammad Magayda
Research generated by Queen Margaret University’s Institute for Global Health and Development is influencing policies which are improving the health of people in low income countries.
QMU’s research has examined the experience of various countries which have removed fees to allow people to access free healthcare. This research has made a significant contribution to fees being removed in many countries for all, or selected populations, including 28 out of 50 countries with the largest maternal and child health mortality rates.
Research from QMU international health experts has been applied to specific countries and has helped shape the detail of health policy. This has resulted in major influence on the global debate relating to the removal of fees for medical and health care.
QMU research was the primary basis on which Save the Children UK lobbied the UK Department for International Development (DFID), stating their belief that ensuring equitable financing of health care is the single biggest contribution that DFID could make to improving reproductive, maternal and newborn health outcomes.
A QMU researcher developed the ‘Freeing up Health Care’ tool to assist the charity. The research team has also helped support Save the Children’s advocacy and policy advisory work more generally. It has also provided assistance with the review of health insurance proposals in Sierra Leone and documenting financial barriers to accessing health care systems in Tanzania.
Research raised serious concerns about free maternal healthcare in Ghana and whether the policy was sustainable. This led to a revision of the policy with financial protection of pregnant women ultimately being transferred to the National Health Insurance Scheme. In the first year of implementation alone, 433,000 additional women had access to health care. Since then, tools developed for Ghana have been used to improve policies in other countries, including Senegal, Mali and Nepal. For example, in Sudan, these tools were used to review the policy on free caesareans and care of the under 5s. With advice from QMU, the Sudanese policy was then reformed and re-launched by the Federal Ministry of Health. Lessons learned on policy design and implementation are now guiding the research team’s advice in Sierra Leone, Mali, Benin, Burkina Faso and Morocco.
QMU’s research in international health has a global reach. Not only is it helping to improve the lives of people in developing countries, it is having a knock-on benefit for national economies. It is estimated that globally $15 billion was lost annually in 2001 due to reduced productivity relating to the death of mothers and neonates. By providing knowledge through research, QMU’s international health and development work is having a positive economic benefit as well as improving and saving lives.