National Health Accounts in Latin America and Caribbean: Concept, Results and Policy Uses

Sep 2001
This paper presents the National Health Accounts (NHA) methodology and its relevance in policy making in the Latin American and Caribbean (LAC) region. After presenting the concept of NHA and highlighting recent results of LAC data collection activities, the paper will focus on policy applications of NHA and its usefulness in supporting the financial dimension of health reforms. Lastly, it will analyze problems and drawbacks in the use of this tool. In short, the paper attempts to answer the following questions: What is NHA? How is it used? Why is it not used? How can and should it be put to use in LAC? Despite the serious drawbacks that exist in the NHA practice (e.g., methodological problems, understanding by policy makers, and institutionalization), the main message of this paper is a normative one: NHA should become the Management Information System for health policies, in particular when the health reform process is in progress.