Reflection Activity

Review the example below and assess if the research is realistic, timely and relevant.

Both the China and Viet Nam Governments have recently recognized the problem of lack of access to health care for the rural population. New policy initiatives are being developed to address the issue. In China, the central government has taken the decision to allocate 10 yuan/year/person for the rural population in the central and western parts of the country, in order to subsidize the re-establishment of a new cooperative medical scheme. It has also asked the provincial government to provide the same amount of money to support the scheme. In Viet Nam, the Government has issued a decree to significantly expand coverage of voluntary health insurance schemes providing the ‘near-poor’ with subsidized insurance cards. This implies that the governments of the two countries have considered direct financial support to service the demand side (particularly for the poor and the near-poor) via health insurance mechanisms, although they continue to allocate certain amounts of money from the government health budget to support the formal health sector. Against this background, the proposed research is expected to support innovative policy initiatives, by bringing together the resources of experienced researchers from China, Viet Nam and three European countries. The goal is to study, evaluate and draw policy lessons for the ongoing movement to strengthen access to effective health care by making health insurance schemes work for the most vulnerable rural population in the two countries.

Possible responses:

From the available information, the proposed research could be said to be realistic. Although policy analyses are challenging and expensive, we are told that experienced researchers from the two countries as well as from Europe will conduct the study. The apparent strong political will could be expected to translate into sufficient resource commitments from the two governments, complemented by external resources from their European collaborators.

With respect to timeliness, it is possible to infer that the research is timely as a critical driver towards the attainment of universal health coverage goals is the rapid expansion of pre-paid mechanisms, particularly among the poor.

Finally, the research is potentially relevant as it addresses a problem that affects a significant proportion of the population. Failure to address the problem would leave the populations with limited access to health services, exposure to catastrophic expenditures, and possibly without recourse to coping mechanisms. This could leave them trapped in a vicious cycle of poverty and poor health.