Changes in catastrophic health expenditure in post-conflict Sierra Leone: an Oaxaca-blinder decomposition analysis
Edoka, Ijeoma P.
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Background At the end of the eleven-year conflict in Sierra Leone, a wide range of policies were implemented to address both demand- and supply-side constraints within the healthcare system, which had collapsed during the conflict. This study examines the extent to which households' exposure to financial risks associated with seeking healthcare evolved in post-conflict Sierra Leone. Method This study uses the 2003 and 2011 cross-sections of the Sierra Leone Integrated Household Survey to examine changes in catastrophic health expenditure between 2003 and 2011. An Oaxaca-Blinder decomposition approach is used to quantify the extent to which changes in catastrophic health expenditure are attributable to changes in the distribution of determinants (distributional effect) and to changes in the impact of these determinants on the probability of incurring catastrophic health expenditure (coefficient effect). Results The incidence of catastrophic health expenditure decreased significantly by 18% from approximately 50% in 2003 t0 32% in 2011. The decomposition analysis shows that this decrease represents net effects attributable to the distributional and coefficient effects of three determinants of catastrophic health expenditure - ill-health, the region in which households reside and the type of health facility used. A decrease in the incidence of ill-health and changes in the regional location of households contributed to a decrease in catastrophic health expenditure. The distributional effect of health facility types observed as an increase in the use of public health facilities, and a decrease in the use of services in facilities owned by non-governmental organizations (NGOs) also contributed to a decrease in the incidence of catastrophic health expenditure. However, the coefficient effect of public health facilities and NGO-owned facilities suggests that substantial exposure to financial risk remained for households utilizing both types of health facilities in 2011. Conclusion The findings support the need to continue expanding current demand-side policies in Sierra Leone to reduce the financial risk of exposure to ill health.