Barriers to effectiveness - Disclaimer This document contains the independent opinion of the two consultants and...
Barriers to effectiveness
Annual operational plans
While the introduction of the AOPs has been a major achievement in implementing the SWAp and HSSP2, they are relatively complex and some MHMS officers remark that they have a history of frequent change. The result would appear to have been significant investment in TA support to assist in the production of the AOPs in a timely manner. Conversely, the plans have indeed been completed in a timely manner and there appears to be a significant degree of ownership of the plans by directors and provincial staff. There may need to be continued support to ensure the timely production of the AOPs in the next phase of support.
Medium Term Expenditure Framework and Plan
The MTEF was put forward in 2011. The document notes that: The production of this MTEF has been externally driven and there is still much more to be done to ensure that it becomes owned by the finance department in the Ministry,
and states that further development of the MTEF should be seen as an on-going progress, with medium term comprehensive financial planning being updated year by year. It presents plans for ongoing capacity building. Unfortunately, this does not seem to have happened and no updated version of the MTEF or Plan was seen, though this is referred to in the draft of the new NHSP. This is somewhat concerning as the 2011 MTEF report identifies several proposed or ongoing items that would have the potential for significant financial consequences for the health budget59. These include:
Hospital Costing (including the potential for greenfield construction of a new referral hospital).
Workforce plan - Improving the costs of training needs and TA.
Infrastructure Plan - improving the costs of Infrastructure.
Whereas these items have been identified since 2011, the potential for unknown future costs with regard to these items continues to be of concern to partners, and with regard to TA costs of concern to SIG. In the absence of an updated MTEF, or alternate longer-term financial planning tool, there is no obvious mechanism whereby these issues can be easily discussed between partners. It would be timely to have and updated version of the MTEF in discussing and agreeing the new HSSP 2016-2020.
The team considered the efficiency of HSSP2 against the efficiency of the budget support model, the shift of resources to provincial budgets and provincial service delivery management and the focus on primary and preventive care. Overall HSSP2 has contributed to the efficiency of the health sector in the Solomon Islands, the primary effect being brought about by the HSSP2 focus on primary and preventive care. In addition to direct HSSP2 support, the main effect was through its policy focus on primary and preventive care in the policy debates with SIG. The main barriers to efficient program implementation were the missing tools used for forward financial planning which limited the forward policy debate.
The budgetary support model used is one of the most pure used in the various SWAps seen by the review team. Efficiency improvement is the key result of such a SWAp model. HSSP2 has supported and encouraged this approach, based on alignment with the NHSP. As such, the Australian support has been a significant driver to encourage efficiency in the health development sector and the SWAp approach reduces transaction costs for government. The Solomon Islands achieves good and equitable health results at a small fraction of the costs in other Asian and Pacific countries with minimal out-of-pocket expenditures.
Sector budget support has helped MHMS organise around AOPs and budgets that drive service delivery and improve efficiency. Sector budget support and donor coordination as practiced by SIG and GoA reduces transaction costs, resulting in more efficient delivery of services, especially provincial services for the poor.
Good progress has been made in bringing together plans and budgets and producing information for decision-making.61 DFAT support is generally ‘on-plan’, ‘on-budget and “on system”’62 and SIG and DFAT encourage other development partners to also align with the MHMS plan and budget. Other donors are mainly on-plan, but most are off-budget and “off system” although they are making efforts to coordinate budgets with the MHMS budget cycle to the extent possible.
Shift to provincial focus
HSSP2 has supported the MHMS and the NHSP in its efforts to shift resources to provincial service delivery and invest more in prevention and public health functions, which improves efficiency. The system functions reasonably well as a nurse-led primary health care system, providing equitable access to basic health services at the provincial level63. HSSP2, by supporting a program monitoring indicator in coordination with the MHMS for the percentage of budget allocated to the Provinces has aided the MHMS to direct increased resources to provincial health, which has improved service delivery efficiency. Support was also directed towards improving the delivery of medicines and supplies at the provincial secondary stores and area health clinics. This further supports provincial service delivery and improves provincial service efficiency by making drugs and medicines available at the point of service.
Focus on primary and preventive care
Health is most efficiently delivered by concentrating effort (funds and personnel) on primary and preventive care.64 The Solomon Islands health system as a nurse-led primary care system is relatively efficient in delivering good health outcomes. It achieves high coverage of services,65 which have been identified as critical to system efficiency. This model of health care delivery is also the approach best suited to having an effect on NCDs that are an evolving focus for the Solomon Islands health system as NCDs form a greater proportion of the burden of disease. Reducing these predominately life style diseases will require a communications strategy, which may be most effectively implemented through a personal and community-based approach.
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