The role of oversight in the health sector: The example of sexual and reproductive health services in India

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This paper examines the role of oversight in influencing the health sector, using examples from sexual and reproductive health services in India. Rather than simply trying to provide services through traditional bureaucratic mechanisms, governments can make use of oversight tools to influence how health care is delivered through the public and private sectors. Three main oversight functions are described: understanding health system performance, deciding when to intervene in the health system and strategizing and implementing change. Governments also need to understand the ethical basis for decisions. The potential for administering oversight through policy-making, disclosing and informing, regulating, collaborating, and strategically subsidising and contracting services in sexual and reproductive health is described. This approach implies an engagement with a broader set of stakeholders in the health sector than is often the case. It requires a set of skills for public officials beyond managing public programmes, and relies on a larger role for other stakeholders and the general public. When applied to reproductive and sexual health, implementation of the full range of oversight functions offers new opportunities to provide more effective, equitable, accountable and affordable services.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)82-94
Number of pages13
JournalReproductive Health Matters
Issue number20
StatePublished - Nov 2002


  • Developing countries
  • Health sector reform
  • India
  • Oversight
  • Reproductive health policies and programmes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Reproductive Medicine
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology


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