The World Health Organization (WHO) completed the first step of assessing alternate means of health financing in Iraq based on social health protection.
Health financing is a key area identified for modernization of the health sector in Iraq. The Government has expressed a willingness to engage in a dialogue with the aim of making the Iraqi health system more efficient and equitable based on a social health protection model.
The health financing and social protection programme provides evidence-based policy and technical support to the Ministry of Health in Iraq to improve health system financing in terms of policy development, allocation and tracking of funds in a way that allows access to all types of health services, and does not result in financial impoverishment, social and financial risk protection, and equity in financing and efficiency in resource use.
Four high-level consultancy meetings were conducted in December to discuss the health sector’ gaps and challenges and agree on suggested alternative financing options and plans. During the discussions, key options were discussed for limited but strategic reforms on three levels. First, Iraq may consider introducing a pilot project to explore the scope for strategic purchasing of primary health services. In particular, moving toward a type of per capita-based funding may lead to important efficiency gains and quality improvements.
Second, initiate change in the way hospitals are managed and operate. Making hospitals more independent can enhance the efficiency of such services with important financial gains. Also, such changes should be introduced gradually and on a small scale initially. Third, the Government may also want to improve the social targeting systems and include also health services in a more strategic manner. Several options for making such changes were explored, including making subsidized services available to particular groups on condition of utilization.