Austrian Times RSS FeedsLike the Austrian Times Facebook page!Follow us on Twitter!


Events for April
M T W T F S S
31 1 2 3 4 5 6
7 8 9 10 11 12 13
14 15 16 17 18 19 20
21 22 23 24 25 26 27
28 29 30 1 2 3 4
Add your event FREE

Today



BurgKino

Pub Quiz everyTuesday at Johnny's Pub

Popular in Austria

Smell Stop

Cosmo&Nanu
Austrian Times Blog

no picture available

Crises are 'windows of opportunity' for health care reform


Here in Austria there are many discussions about problems in the health system and about potential new health reforms.

Many of these discussions tend to wield criticism about proposed changes, but according to experts at the European Health Forum Gastein congress currently being held in Austria these changes can be a positive thing and present a 'Window of Change'

Economic crises and recessions affect health systems in entirely different ways. In less-developed countries they represent a severe threat to any progress that has been achieved. But in industrialised societies they can prove to be a motor for breaking up old, out-dated, structures and be the catalyst for renewal, experts told the European Health Forum Gastein. But they argued that sustainable reforms depended on their shape and direction being worked out in advance.

 Economic crises can provide an entirely positive impetus to health systems – at least in developed countries. "A health care system stabilises the economy in times of crisis, provided it has adequate reserves and potential for efficiency," Dr Thomas Czypionka, of the Vienna Institute for Advanced Studies, told the European Health Forum Gastein (EHFG). "Conversely, pressure to cut costs in times of recession can actually create opportunities to accelerate reforms in the health sector."

In the main, health care and equality of health treatment in industrialised countries were relatively little affected by crises, he said. Demand for health services did not depend on the economy, indeed the health system as an economic factor (which) could even (things) help out in turbulent times. The OECD had demonstrated this in a 2010 working paper: "In countries where GDP falls, the share of GDP spent on health tends to rise," Dr Czypionka, an expert in health economics and health policy, told the EHFG.

The pressure to cut costs which economic crises bring in their train can also bring about thoroughly positive changes, Dr. Czypionka stressed. "In many developed countries there are traditional structures in need of deeper reforms which are in turn blocked by political resistance. Crises can – though this will not necessarily be the case – be motors for such change, because for a short time they create a wide divergence between need and available finance. This can mean that change has to be implemented which might otherwise not happen till years later."

Dr. Czypionka therefore sees crises as a "windows of opportunity", but ones which quickly close again if there is an improvement in the economic situation. "The pressure is reduced, and more radical changes use up a relatively large amount of political capital." This phenomenon could only be exploited if, before the crisis set in, serious ideas for reform had been developed which, if necessary, could implemented fairly rapidly.

But Dr Czypionka said he saw the current economic crisis in Europe as different in a number of ways: "Its effects are likely to be more sustained than those of previous crises, since not only banks, but in EU countries the whole community has been caught up in the maelstrom. It's hard to quantify such effects, however." The way these worked out in practice had until now been very diverse, according to the WHO's Health Evidence Network: in part, countries had been able to draw on reserves and so expand access to services for the low-paid, or to make their system more efficient.
But many other European countries had been much less well-prepared, reacting by simply making cuts, even abandoning reforms which had already been put in train, or increasing the burden on individuals for using basic services, either by imposing extra costs or lengthening waiting-lists. „I fear that the consequences will be felt for many years to come – possibly most when the demographic trend hits hardest, with all the strains that will impose on health and social systems," Dr Czypionka said.

However, this assessment did not apply to the entire global situation. „In less-developed countries, crises are typically much more damaging than in industrialized countries. Where health systems are still at the development stage, there is very clear evidence of improved quality of life and more equality. Both of these declined in a very immediate way when there are crises, the successes and achievements of reforms going into reverse or even being completely wrecked," said Dr Czypionka.

Current figures have been provided by a research team headed by Christopher JL Murray in the journal Health Affairs. These show there has been a marked slowing-down in the increase in development aid for health projects since 2009. On top of a fall in contributions by donor countries, funding commitments by many UN agencies as well as the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria, had stagnated. That there was nonetheless a year-on-year increase of about four per cent was primarily because the World Bank appeared to have deliberately increased its contributions as a reaction to the global economic crisis.

Where crises result in sudden cuts in public health-care spending, this can, according to the WHO's analysis, endanger the health-care of the population at large. What made this worse, said Dr Czypionka, was that forced cuts – best avoided at the best of times – came just when a society needed more, not less, resources to deal with health issues resulting from, for instance, unemployment. There was a risk of destabilization, notably where cuts damaged the financial base of the most important services.

The EHFG is the most important conference on health care policy in the European Union. In this its 15th year, the EHFG attracts more than 600 decision-makers from 45 countries to discuss major topics on the future of the European health care system from 3 to 6 October 2012.

Austrian Times


Are you on Facebook? Like the Austrian Times on Facebook and win great prizes!




Tag cloud:
reform  ndash  health  global  pressure  equality  European  Czypionka  EHFG  experts  crises  implemented  cuts  tend  Gastein  entirely  industrialised  Forum  positive  direction


Latest News

 

Pressure Group To Tackle Victims Of Austrian Officialdom
A group of businessmen fed up at the way companies are being squeezed not only by red tape but also by ever newer taxes have taken to the Internet to try and build up pressure for change.

First Hotel in Millstatt Celebrates 130th Anniversary on Summer 2014
Luxury hotel See-Villa in Millstatt, Carinthia opens its doors anew to welcome the 2014 summer season and celebrates its 130th founding anniversary in Austria's summer capital.

Austrian Teen Girls Become Pin Ups For Syrian Jihad
Interpol is searching for two Austrian teenage girls who they believe have been tricked into going to Syria to fight on the side of Islamic rebels.

As seen at Haydn Kino: The Amazing Spider-Man 2
Film review by Kostyantyn Steblovskyy

Schools Ordered To Save, But Also To Buy Expensive Scales
Austria's embattled finance ministry has been dragged into a new scandal after it emerged that at the same time as demanding schools save 57 Millionen Euros, they were also expected to find an additional 3 million to buy an approved set of weighing scales.

OAP Hunts Down THIS Hit And Run Cyclist
Does anyone recognise this cyclist? If so you can get yourself 200 euros, and do a good deed in the process.

Property price rise continues
The price of property in Vienna has now spiralled so much that every 4th apartment comes with a price tag of 500,000 or more. And every second flat costs 300,000 or more.

Free Staff For One Person Companies - But Only In NÍ
Since the beginning of the year one-man-companies, the so called "Ein-Personen-Unternehmen" in Lower Austria have been entitled to help in the form of a free assistant.

What is on at Burg Kino this week? (18 April - 24 April)



This week at the Burg Kino on the Opernring the following films are showing:





Austria Accused Of Ignoring Giant Nazi Swastika
A huge swastika that has scarred the walls of an Austrian castle for the past 80 years is still on view despite breaching strict postwar rules banning all Nazi symbols.

 


Mala Vrata

The most popular stories –
last 7 days



Don't moan alone, the Ombudsman Investigates.

Why suffer in silence. Let off steam by letting our readers share your troubles. File your complaints about anything and everything here.

Our ombudsman David Rogers will try and help solve some of the problems from lazy civil servants through to incompetent companies – and at the very least the worst transgressors will end up in our weekly special report.


Austrian Zimmers