• Access to Health Care for All? User Fees Plus a Health Equity Fund in Sotnikum, Cambodia.

      Hardeman, W; Van Damme, W; Van Pelt, M; Por, I; Kimvan, H; Meessen, B; Médecins sans Frontières, Phnom Penh, Cambodia. (Published by Oxford University Press, 2004-01)
      User fees in health services are a source of much debate because of their potential risk of negative effects on access to health care for the poor. A Health Equity Fund that identifies the poor and pays on their behalf may be an alternative to generally ineffective fee exemption policies. This paper presents the experience of such a Health Equity Fund, managed by a local non-governmental organization, in Sotnikum, Cambodia. It describes the results of the first 2 years of operations, investigates the constraints to equitable access to the district hospital and the effects of the Health Equity Fund on these constraints. The Health Equity Fund supported 16% of hospitalized patients. We found four major constraints to access: financial, geographical, informational and intra-household. The results of the study show that the Health Equity Fund effectively improves financial access for the poor, but that the poor continue to face many constraints for timely access. The study also found that the Health Equity Fund as set up in Sotnikum was very cost-effective, with minimal leakage to non-poor. Health Equity Funds managed by a local non-governmental organization seem to constitute a promising channel for donors who want to invest in poverty reduction. However, further research and experimentation are recommended in different contexts and with different set-ups.
    • A Comparison of Liposomal Amphotericin B with Sodium Stibogluconate for the Treatment of Visceral Leishmaniasis in Pregnancy in Sudan.

      Mueller, M; Balasegaram, M; Koummuki, Y; Ritmeijer, K; Santana, M R; Davidson, R N N; Médecins sans Frontières, 67-74 Saffron Hill, London EC1N 8QX, UK. (Published by Oxford University Press, 2006-10)
      OBJECTIVES: Little is known about the treatment of visceral leishmaniasis (VL) in pregnancy, especially in resource-poor settings. We present a series of pregnant women with VL treated with either sodium stibogluconate or liposomal amphotericin B (AmBisome), or both, in eastern Sudan over 16 months. METHODS: We did a retrospective analysis of all pregnant VL patients treated in the Médecins sans Frontières (MSF) Um el Kher centre between January 2004 and April 2005. We diagnosed VL with laboratory confirmation of clinical suspects, and recorded the outcomes of treatment for pregnant women and their foetuses. We carried out a manual search of relevant publications and a systematic search of the literature in the MEDLINE database. RESULTS: We treated 23 women with sodium stibogluconate, 4 with AmBisome and sodium stibogluconate and 12 with AmBisome alone. There were 13 (57%) spontaneous abortions in the sodium stibogluconate monotherapy group, and none in either of the other two groups. All spontaneous abortions occurred in the first two trimesters. All patients, except one in the sodium stibogluconate group who defaulted, were discharged as cured in good clinical condition. CONCLUSIONS: AmBisome treatment for VL appears to be safe and effective for pregnant women and their foetuses. We recommend the use of AmBisome as first-line treatment for these patients.