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Health systems flattening - the failed promises of decentralisation in Mozambique.

Glob Public Health; 13(12): 1737-1752, 2018 Dec.
Artigo em Inglês | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-29411676
Over the past decade, health systems strengthening (HSS) has become a global health imperative. As an answer to the influence of large-scale initiatives and NGOs, HSS represents a backlash against disease-specific projects and funding. Depicted as a positive evolution, HSS advertises local autonomy, and a turn away from donor-driven agendas. Central to this shift was the hope that 'vertical' funding, especially for HIV/AIDS, could be better used to build up the 'crumbling core' of health infrastructure in sub-Saharan Africa. As part of the change in Mozambique, HIV specialty clinics known as 'day hospitals' were decentralised (closed down) nationwide. Done in the name of efficiency and increased treatment coverage, the full impacts of this remain uncharted. In this article, I critique the ethical adequacy of HSS as a reorganising principle, pointing out the pursuit not of robust health systems, but of easily monitored ones instead. Occurring alongside performance-based financing, HSS invites the removal of specialty services, exposing health systems to additional shaping by outside forces. Based on ethnography with HIV support groups, I suggest HSS was an inevitable policy choice, but partially coercive. Such changes are neither counter-hegemonic nor capable of ameliorating foreign distortions in the developing world.