Bulletin of the World Health Organization
Volume 90, Number 7, July 2012, 477-556
Cash transfer schemes and the health sector: making the case for greater involvement
- Ian Forde et al.
Cash transfer schemes can be important contributors to human development and social protection. Although they have significant health benefits, they have rarely been considered an integral part of the health policy portfolio. We believe that a case can be made for greater health sector involvement in the design, implementation and evaluation of such schemes.
Cash transfers (CTs) are attracting increasing interest as effective and acceptable means of improving the welfare of disadvantaged households in low- and middle-income countries. They give households regular, predictable amounts of money in the form of pensions, child benefits or regular household grants. Although such social protection mechanisms are often the norm in high-income countries, CTs have historically been rare in low- and middle-income countries. Instead, governments and donors have typically preferred supply-side interventions (expanding health care coverage, for example) or in-kind transfers of goods or food. Financial shocks during the late 1990s, however, triggered a global shift towards social protection schemes more closely resembling European models (emphasizing social security rather than assistance as a last resort). This shift also reflected a desire to correct shortcomings associated with reforms advocated under the Washington consensus, characterized by the dismantling of State services and their replacement with segmented private services…