Theme area
Values, policies and rights, Equitable health services, Human resources for health, Public-private mix, Resource allocation and health financing, Governance and participation in health
Loewenson R; Mamdani M; Todd G; Kadowa I; Nswilla A; Kisanga O; Luwabelwa M; Banda P; Palale M; Magagula S
Title of publication EQUINET discussion paper 113: The role of an essential health benefit in health systems in east and southern Africa: Learning from regional research’
Date of publication
2018 February
Publication type
Publication details
‘The role of an essential health benefit in health systems in east and southern Africa: Learning from regional research’, EQUINET discussion paper 113, TARSC and IHI, EQUINET, Harare.
Publication status
essential health benefit, east and southern Africa, universal health systems,
An Essential Health Benefit (EHB) is a policy intervention defining the service benefits (or benefit package) in order to direct resources to priority areas of health service delivery to reduce disease burdens and ensure health equity. Many east and southern African (ESA) countries have introduced or updated EHBs in the 2000s. Recognising this in 2015-2017, the Regional Network for Equity in Health in East and Southern Africa (EQUINET), through Ifakara Health Institute (IHI) and Training and Research Support Centre (TARSC), with ministries of health in Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia, implemented desk reviews and country case studies, and held a regional meeting to gather and share evidence and learning on the role of EHBs in resourcing, organising and in accountability on integrated, equitable universal health systems. This report synthesises the learning across the full programme of work. It presents the methods used, the context and policy motivations for developing EHBs; how they are being defined, costed, disseminated and used in health systems, including for service provision and quality, resourcing and purchasing services and monitoring and accountability on service delivery and performance, and for learning, useful practice and challenges faced. This research pointed to the evidence within the region for policy dialogue on universal health systems. It raised the usefulness of designing, costing, implementing and monitoring an EHB as a key entry point and operational strategy for realising universal health coverage and systems and for making clear the deficits to be met.
East and southern Africa region
Equinet Publication Type
Discussion paper