Productivity change of national health systems in the WHO Eastern Mediterranean region: application of DEA-based Malmquist productivity index



Masri MD, Asbu EZ.


Glob Health Res Policy. 2018 Aug 1;3:22. doi: 10.1186/s41256-018-0077-8. 2018.


BACKGROUND: The pursuit of efficiency and productivity is one of the goals of health systems. In the era of Sustainable Development Goals and particularly the move towards universal health coverage, it is imperative to curb wastage of resources to ensure sustainable access of the population to needed and effective health services without enduring financial hardship. This study aims to assess total factor productivity change of national health systems of 20 countries in the WHO’s Eastern Mediterranean Region. METHODS: Data Envelopment Analysis (DEA)-based Malmquist index is used to assess total factor productivity change and its components – efficiency change and technical change. To assess the robustness of the Malmquist index estimates, bootstrapping was performed. Outputs used are life expectancy at birth for both sexes and infant mortality; while total expenditure on health per capita in international dollars (PPP) is used as a measure of input. Panel data for the period 2003-2014 was extracted from databases of the WHO and the World Bank. RESULTS: In all but five countries covered in the study, a decline in the mean total factor productivity is observed during the period 2003-2014. The decline is driven by technical regress. In all countries, the technical change component of the Malmquist TFP index is less than unity (range: 0.896 to 0.945). All countries exhibited growth in efficiency (efficiency change exceeding one) except two countries (Djibouti and Iraq). The growth in efficiency was mainly due to change in scale efficiency. Overall, total factor productivity in the region declined by 3.8%. This was due to a 9.1% decline in technical change, which overshadowed the 5.8% increase in efficiency. Three countries – Libya, Qatar and Yemen – showed a marginal growth in total factor productivity. There was no change in total factor productivity in Kuwait and Lebanon. CONCLUSION: The decline in total factor productivity over the study period is likely to hamper achieving the targets of Sustainable Development Goal 3 of ensuring healthy lives and promoting well-being for all at all ages. It is recommended that country-level studies on efficiency and productivity of health systems be conducted in order to intensively examine the determinants of inefficiency and productivity decline and implement appropriate interventions that could enhance efficiency and productivity.

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Link/DOI: 10.1186/s41256-018-0077-8