As a step towards universal health coverage, African countries need to develop funding systems that are effective, equitable, and tailored to national circumstances. To support policy makers in Burkina Faso, we present a review of research on interventions related to user fees, prepayment plans, and user fee subsidies.We compiled a narrative summary of articles published in scientific journals between 1980 and 2012. In all, 64 articles were selected. A thematic analysis was performed.User fees are a barrier to access to care; they curtail the use of health services and exclude the worst-off. People prefer prepayment plans in which each household pays an annual premium. However, the insurance premium remains a barrier to membership. Insurance does not benefit the poor but increases the use of health services by the insured. The subsidy for facility-based deliveries was not sufficiently well planned and difficulties have been observed in its implementation. While it helps reduce costs and improves access to care, it has not reduced inequalities. Community-based and participatory interventions have been useful for identifying the worst-off in order to exempt them from user fees.While prepayment is being promoted internationally as a financing model for universal health coverage, the evidence in favour of this system in Burkina Faso is still very limited. Further studies, more representative of the national context, must be conducted on this option, while at the same time, continuing efforts must be made to identify solutions for the poor who are unable to pay.
Oumar Mallé Samb
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