Trade in Health Services and Sustainable Development | Asian Development Bank

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Trade in Health Services and Sustainable Development

Publication | February 2017
Trade in Health Services and Sustainable Development

Trade in health services can help achieve health-related Sustainable Development Goals.

Effective health services form the backbone of health interventions. Accessibility, quality, capacity, organization, availability of human and physical resources, and equity in the provision of health services are essential for a healthcare system to deliver desired outcomes. We focus on the impact of health services trade on the realization of sustainable development goals and the various modalities through which this may occur. We highlight the positive and negative implications of health services trade for sustainable development goals and the fact that this impact depends on the specifics of the country and its national healthcare system, the regulatory environment governing the health sector and related sectors, the policies adopted to facilitate or constrain this trade, and the associated externalities. We conclude by indicating two broad directions for policy action at the national level. The first is to address structural issues in the healthcare system, the key structural issues being standards, infrastructure, human resources, and technology. The second is to ensure synergies between health services trade and the rest of the healthcare system. In addition to national policies, multilateral and regional cooperation can also promote sustainable development in the context of health services trade. We suggest that trade in health services can be strategically used to address several sustainable development goals.