Improving Efficiency in Health
February 3-4, 2016Washington D.C. | Preston Auditorium, Main Complex, World Bank

The conference has concluded, please check  back here shortly for a link to the taped conference.

To view presentations from the conference, please click here or on the Presentations tab.

The World Bank Group hosted a global conference on “Improving Efficiency in Health”, from 3rd to 4th Feb 2016. The conference convened those working in the field of health to improve the efficiency of programs and interventions, as well as policymakers, modelers and researchers, and other individuals committed to improving the efficiency of health services.  Partners in health financing, government representatives, academics, development organizations and civil society representatives were invited to attend.

The first day of the conference focused on “Efficiency in HIV Responses.” The second day focused on “Efficiency in other Areas of Health, such as TB, Nutrition, Child Health and Hepatitis C.”

The program was designed to facilitate sharing of new scientific knowledge and good practices, offer opportunities for structured dialogue on the major issues facing those working towards improving efficiency within the health sector, and sharing experiences. A variety of session types – from abstract-driven presentations to countries sharing experience, both plenary and parallel sessions – aimed to meet the needs of various participants.

The program included:

  • More than 20 experienced speakers
  • Four expert specialist panel discussions
  • Breakaway sessions looking at new modeling approaches in TB, nutrition, child health and Hepatitis C


To download an invitation to the conference, click here.

To download the conference logistics note, click here.

To download the program for the conference, click here.

For further information, contact:

Wendy Heard:  

Samantha Goodman:

Uma Balasubramanian:

Getting to Universal Health Coverage: Setting priorities and increasing efficiency

The recent Prince Mahidol Awards Conference statement has emphatically brought the issue of setting priorities in order to achieve UHC to the fore as an urgent challenge. With equally important initiatives for TB, malaria, preventative health care, maternal and child health and many others vying for the same domestic funding as well as shrinking aid (and health) dollars, how can countries make the best health investment decisions with limited funding?

During a recent World Bank conference on improving efficiency in health, a few core themes emerged: 

  1. Allocative efficiency can drive real change. For example, in Sudan, new evidence generated applying Optima (a data analytical software) analysis, proved that the limited resources allocated to tackle HIV/AIDS issues were focused on the general population but would better serve the overall HIV program goals by focusing on certain sub-groups of infected (for example, high-risk men). The cost-effectiveness of these program allocations was increased. The same budget in Sudan led to an increase in coverage of priority programs, which was estimated to avert an additional 49,000 new infections by 2020. 
  2. Allocative efficiency changes need to happen at all levels. Getting to this answer is important, and must be done methodically, with buy-in at every level of the health chain from government support to individual community health centers.
  3. Health spending prioritization cannot be viewed as separate silos. For instance, how can we work on allocative efficiencies in AIDS/HIV spending, but not look at child health spending? The same health budget pays for all of them. We must look at the whole health budget pie – not just individual slices. 

One has to grow one’s way to efficiency. Efficiency is not about reducing coverage (or costs), but expanding service for the same price.

To achieve this efficiency, we need to turn to our friend: data data data! There is already a wealth of data and tools available to help shape programs and guide officials who set spending guidelines. Chris Murray of the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluations suggests that picking the right mix of data and tools will help guide the efficiency conversation. However, more routine data will help to focus efforts on where the holes in the efficiency system lie. 

So - why is this important for UHC?

Universal health coverage is about people having access to the health care they need without suffering financial hardship. It is imperative that we improve the efficiency in all of our health spending, looking at it as a whole pie, rather than just slices, we will be able to improve allocative efficiency and stretch the limited resources much further.