This commentary paper argues that the Asia-Pacific region would benefit from a home-grown version of the European Observatory on Health Care Systems to inform health sector policy: an Asia-Pacific Observatory. The countries in this diverse region, ranging from highly developed to very poor countries, are undergoing dramatic and diverse health sector changes, often on the basis of little evidence and with little information on successes and failures in neighbouring countries. The international community also is interested in knowing more about the many distinctive models of Asia-Pacific health care, While statistical comparisons are important, health policymakers and researchers need to understand the story behind the statistics in order to interpret the numbers and to formulate policies and strategies. Health system profiles therefore are useful instruments that describe how a complex health sector works, offer a comparative framework for cross-national comparisons, identify trends in health system design, and with standardised measures and regular updates measure progress against benchmarks. These reports and expanded analyses have influenced both national and Europe-wide debates on health policy. In the Asia-Pacific region, health systems research has built up a critical mass of studies and people with strong links across countries. The next ambitious steps are to identify sponsors able to support an enterprise that transcends national boundaries and to begin a project of comparative studies of national health systems.
|Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health
|Published - 2003