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PLoS One ; 15(10): e0241017, 2020.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-892383


BACKGROUND: Economic recessions carry an impact on population health and access to care; less is known on how health systems adapt to the conditions brought by a downturn. This particularly matters now that the COVID-19 epidemic is putting health systems under stress. Brazil is one of the world's most affected countries, and its health system was already experiencing the aftermath of the 2015 recession. METHODS: Between 2018 and 2019 we conducted 46 semi-structured interviews with health practitioners, managers and policy-makers to explore the impact of the 2015 recession on public and private providers in prosperous (São Paulo) and impoverished (Maranhão) states in Brazil. Thematic analysis was employed to identify drivers and consequences of system adaptation and coping strategies. Nvivo software was used to aid data collection and analysis. We followed the Standards for Reporting Qualitative Research to provide an account of the findings. RESULTS: We found the concept of 'health sector crisis' to be politically charged among healthcare providers in São Paulo and Maranhão. Contrary to expectations, the public sector was reported to have found ways to compensate for diminishing federal funding, having outsourced services and adopted flexible-if insecure-working arrangements. Following a drop in employment and health plans, private health insurance companies have streamlined their offer, at times at the expenses of coverage. Low-cost walk-in clinics were hit hard by the recession, but were also credited for having moved to cater for higher-income customers in Maranhão. CONCLUSIONS: The 'plates' of a health system may shift and adjust in unexpected ways in response to recessions, and some of these changes might outlast the crisis. As low-income countries enter post-COVID economic recessions, it will be important to monitor the adjustments taking place in health systems, to ensure that past gains in access to care and job security are not eroded.

Administrative Personnel/psychology , Betacoronavirus , Coronavirus Infections , Economic Recession , Health Care Sector/economics , Health Facility Administrators/psychology , Health Personnel/psychology , Pandemics , Pneumonia, Viral , Private Sector/economics , Public Sector/economics , Ambulatory Care Facilities/economics , Attitude of Health Personnel , Brazil , COVID-19 , Community Health Services/economics , Developing Countries , Humans , Insurance, Health, Reimbursement , Interviews as Topic , Physicians/psychology , Qualitative Research , SARS-CoV-2 , Telemedicine , Unemployment
Indian J Public Health ; 64(Supplement): S231-S233, 2020 Jun.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-555440


The emergence of novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic provides unique challenges for health system. While on the one hand, the government has to struggle with the strategies for control of COVID-19, on the other hand, other routine health services also need to be managed. Second, the infrastructure needs to be augmented to meet the potential epidemic surge of cases. Third, economic welfare and household income need to be guaranteed. All of these have complicated the routine ways in which the governments have dealt with various trade-offs to determine the health and public policies. In this paper, we outline key economic principles for the government to consider for policymaking, during, and after the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic rightfully places long due attention of policymakers for investing in health sector. The policy entrepreneurs and public health community should not miss this once-in-a-lifetime "policy window" to raise the level of advocacy for appropriate investment in health sector.

Coronavirus Infections/economics , Health Care Sector/organization & administration , Pandemics/economics , Pneumonia, Viral/economics , Public Policy , Betacoronavirus , COVID-19 , Capacity Building , Health Care Rationing/organization & administration , Health Care Sector/economics , Health Care Sector/statistics & numerical data , Health Status , Humans , India , Private Sector/organization & administration , Public Sector/organization & administration , SARS-CoV-2