Priority Setting for Universal Health Coverage: We Need to Focus Both on Substance and on Process; Comment on “Priority Setting for Universal Health Coverage: We Need Evidence-Informed Deliberative Processes, not Just More Evidence on Cost-Effectiveness”

Document Type: Commentary

Authors

1 Economic Analysis and Evaluation, World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland

2 Health Systems Governance, Policy and Aid Effectiveness, World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland

Abstract

In an editorial published in this journal, Baltussen et al argue that information on cost-effectiveness is not sufficient for priority setting for universal health coverage (UHC), a claim which is correct as far as it goes. However, their focus on the procedural legitimacy of ‘micro’ priority setting processes (eg, decisions concerning the reimbursement of specific interventions), and their related assumption that values for priority setting are determined only at this level, leads them to ignore the relevance of higher level, ‘macro’ priority setting processes, for example, consultations held by World Health Organization (WHO) Member States and other global stakeholders that have resulted in widespread consensus on the principles of UHC. Priority setting is not merely about discrete choices, nor should the focus be exclusively (or even mainly) on improving the procedural elements of micro priority setting processes. Systemic activities that shape the health system environment, such as strategic planning, as well as the substantive content of global policy instruments, are critical elements for priority setting for UHC.

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