International healthcare systems
Health care differs around the world, but it’s not easy to see which system is best
A health system is the arrangement through which health services are delivered. It can be defined to include all the activities that have the primary purpose to promote, restore, or maintain health.1 These include formal health services, traditional healers, care of the sick at home, and public health activities, such as health promotion and disease prevention. A healthcare system consists of two functional components—financing and provision.2 In some cases, both are integrated; in others, one entity may manage funds, and other bodies purchase and provide the services.
Health system financing is the process by which revenues are collected, pooled, and allocated.3 Collection of revenue is from primary sources, such as households and firms, and secondary sources, like governments and donor agencies. The pooling of financial resources means that contributors share financial risk. Purchasing is the process through which revenues are allocated to institutional or individual providers to deliver interventions. These