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Using burden of disease information for health planning in developing countries: the experience from Uganda


  • Kapiriri, Lydia
  • Norheim, Ole Frithjof
  • Heggenhougen, Kristian


Given the growing interest in both the use of evidence in planning and in using the burden of disease measure (BOD) and cost-effectiveness analysis, we explored health planners' perception of the usefulness of the BOD in priority setting and planning in developing countries, using Uganda as an example. An exploratory qualitative approach involving in-depth interviews with key policy makers in health at district and national levels was employed. Interviews were supplemented with a review of relevant documents. Analysis involved identification of key concepts from the interviews. Concepts were grouped into categories, namely, the appeal of quantitative data, data limitations, opaque methodology, planning as a political process and opportunity costs. These form the basis of this article. We found that the BOD study results have been used as the basis for the national health policy and in defining the contents of the national essential health care package. The quantification and ranking of disease burden is appreciated by politicians and used for advocacy, resource mobilization and re-allocation. The results have also provided information for priority setting and strategic planning. Limitations to its use included poor understanding of the methodology, poor quality of data in-puts, low involvement of stakeholders, inability of the methodology to capture key non-economic issues, and the costs of carrying out the study. There is commitment, by Ugandan planners to using evidence in priority setting. Since this was an exploratory study, there is a need for more studies in developing countries to document their experiences with the use of evidence, and specifically, the BOD approach in planning and priority setting. Such information would contribute to further synthesis of the approach.

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  • Kapiriri, Lydia & Norheim, Ole Frithjof & Heggenhougen, Kristian, 2003. "Using burden of disease information for health planning in developing countries: the experience from Uganda," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 56(12), pages 2433-2441, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:56:y:2003:i:12:p:2433-2441

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. repec:eee:hepoli:v:121:y:2017:i:9:p:937-946 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Kapiriri, Lydia & Norheim, Ole Frithjof & Martin, Douglas K., 2007. "Priority setting at the micro-, meso- and macro-levels in Canada, Norway and Uganda," Health Policy, Elsevier, vol. 82(1), pages 78-94, June.
    3. Rob Baltussen & Elly Stolk & Dan Chisholm & Moses Aikins, 2006. "Towards a multi-criteria approach for priority setting: an application to Ghana," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 15(7), pages 689-696.
    4. Arnesen, Trude & Kapiriri, Lydia, 2004. "Can the value choices in DALYs influence global priority-setting?," Health Policy, Elsevier, vol. 70(2), pages 137-149, November.
    5. Salome A. Bukachi & Washington Onyango-Ouma & Jared Maaka Siso & Isaac K. Nyamongo & Joseph K. Mutai & Anna Karin Hurtig & Øystein Evjen Olsen & Jens Byskov, 2014. "Healthcare priority setting in Kenya: a gap analysis applying the accountability for reasonableness framework," International Journal of Health Planning and Management, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 29(4), pages 342-361, October.
    6. Kapiriri, Lydia, 2013. "How effective has the essential health package been in improving priority setting in low income countries?," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 85(C), pages 38-42.
    7. Baltussen, Rob, 2006. "Priority setting of public spending in developing countries: Do not try to do everything for everybody," Health Policy, Elsevier, vol. 78(2-3), pages 149-156, October.
    8. Rosenberg-Yunger, Zahava R.S. & Thorsteinsdóttir, Halla & Daar, Abdallah S. & Martin, Douglas K., 2012. "Stakeholder involvement in expensive drug recommendation decisions: An international perspective," Health Policy, Elsevier, vol. 105(2), pages 226-235.


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