Potential strategies for sustainably financing mental health care in Uganda

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BioMed Central

Abstract Background In spite of the pronounced adverse economic consequences of mental, neurological, and substance use disorders on households in most low- and middle-income countries, service coverage and financial protection for these families is very limited. The aim of this study was to generate potential strategies for sustainably financing mental health care in Uganda in an effort to move towards increased financial protection and service coverage for these families. Methods The process of identifying potential strategies for sustainably financing mental health care in Uganda was guided by an analytical framework developed by the Emerging Mental health systems in low and middle income countries (EMERALD project). Data were collected through a situational analysis (public health burden assessment, health system assessment, macro fiscal assessment) and eight key informant interviews with selected stakeholders from sectors including health, finance and civil society. The situational analysis provided contextualization for the strategies, and was complimented by views from key informant interviews. Results Findings indicate that the following strategies have the greatest potential for moving towards more equitable and sustainable mental health financing in the Uganda context: implementing National Health Insurance Scheme; shifting to Results Based Financing; decentralizing mental health services that can be provided at community level; and continued advocacy with decision makers with evidence through research. Conclusion Although several options were identified for sustainably financing mental health care in Uganda, the National Health Insurance Scheme seemed the most viable option. However, for the scheme to be effective, there is need for scale up to community health facilities and implementation in a manner that explicitly includes community level facilities.