Between intent and achievement in sector-wide approaches: staking a claim for reproductive health.

Reproductive health matters

PubMedID: 12557640

Hill PS. Between intent and achievement in sector-wide approaches: staking a claim for reproductive health. Reprod Health Matters. 2002;10(20):29-37.
Since 1995, sector-wide approaches (SWAps) to health development have significantly influenced health aid to developing countries. SWAps offer guidelines for new partnerships with international donors led by government, new relationships between donors and shared financing, development and implementation of agreed packages of health sector reforms. These structural and funding changes have significant implications for reproductive health. The early experience of SWAps suggests that the extent of donor commitment is constrained for administrative, philosophical and political reasons, with vertical programmes (including those relevant to reproductive health) protecting their 'core' business, and reproductive health, as an integrative concept, lacking strong advocates. Defining the sector in terms of government health systems focuses resources on building effective district health systems, but with uncertain outcomes for elements of reproductive health that depend on multi-sectoral strategies, e.g. safe motherhood. The context of the reforms remains a determining factor in their success, but despite savings available through increased efficiencies and coordinated services, the total per capita expenditure on health to ensure minimum clinical and public health services often remains beyond the budget available to least developed nations. Despite this, many of the elements of SWAps--government leadership, new donor relationships, better coordination, sectoral reform and service integration--offer the potential for more effective and efficient health services, including those for reproductive health.