Can Results-Based Financing Help Reduce Wealth-Based Disparities in Maternal and Child Health Outcomes in Zimbabwe?

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Makate, Marshall
Mahonye, Nyasha
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African Economic Research Consortium
Results-based financing (RBF) programme evaluations in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) have concentrated on quantifying the impact of such programmes on maternal and child health outcomes, worker satisfaction and quality of care. Very few studies have considered assessing the effectiveness of these programmes from a distributive perspective. This study uses nationally representative data from the Zimbabwe demographic and health survey complemented with geographic location data. As a first step, the empirical approach quantifies wealth-related inequalities in selected maternal and child health outcomes using concentration indices at the district level. A standard difference-in-difference model complemented by kernel-based propensity score matching was used to consistently estimate the impact of the RBF programme on the equality of maternal and child health outcomes across socioeconomic gradients in Zimbabwe by comparing the changes in concentration indices between 2010 and 2015 in ten districts with RBF and thirty districts without the RBF programme for 12 indicators of access to maternal health care and nine indicators of child health outcomes. The results show that the RBF programme was associated with greater and significant improvements in equity related to several outcomes. These outcomes included: prenatal care use (four or more prenatal care visits), family planning, quality of prenatal care (blood pressure checks, iron tablets, and tetanus toxoid vaccinations), child full immunizations, and treatment for fever occurring in the two weeks before the survey. The RBF programme did not appear to ameliorate wealth-related inequality regarding child low birth weight, neonatal mortality, stunting, diarrhoea prevalence, treatment for diarrhoea, and fever prevalence. A sensitivity check of the estimates indicates that our results are weakly robust to considering absolute inequality measures (slope index of inequality and the generalized Gini index). From a policy perspective, the results have important implications for public health policies geared towards improving access to maternal and child health care services in developing countries. Our analysis reveals that RBF programmes do not necessarily eliminate wealth-related inequality in maternal and child health outcomes in Zimbabwe but are certainly a valuable complement to equity-enhancing policies in the country.