Countries face several challenges in attaining and sustaining Universal Health Coverage (UHC), such as limited domestic funding, rapidly growing demand for health services, health system inefficiencies, poor management of resources, and fragmented development assistance. Planning the benefits package becomes even more challenging, and key questions remain unsolved: Should all medical services be included in a benefits package to it to be considered ‘complete’? Is access to health truly ‘universal’? What about value for money? More often than not, countries invest in interventions which offer poor value for money, significantly impacting the sustainability of the UHC scheme.
While the answers to the questions above are not straightforward, probing the cost-effectiveness of the interventions has proven to be worthwhile. Health Technology Assessment (HTA) is one of the methods that has gained popularity over the years, and it offers a way of incorporating evidence on which health interventions or technologies (medicines, devices, among others) provide the best ‘value-for-money’; i.e. those that lead to improvements in population health that are large relative to the cost involved. There are several success stories from developed and developing countries where HTA research is employed to guide decision making to ensure resources are allocated efficiently, thereby improving health outcomes under same or lower health budgets, ultimately leading to a more financially sustainable UHC scheme. Given this background and the context of PMAC's Sub-theme 2 this year on Sustainable Financing for Expanding & Deepening Universal Health Coverage, HITAP proposes a side meeting with a twofold objective: