What is EQUIST?
EQUIST is a medium-term analysis and strategic planning tool to improve child and maternal health as well as nutrition equity in developing and middle-income countries. It helps decision makers identify which populations are disadvantaged, why they are disadvantaged, and which combination of evidence based high impact interventions and health system strengthening strategies would produce the best results. Through these means EQUIST is a tool meant for maximizing the number of lives saved; decreasing health disparities and improving overall cost effectiveness. EQUIST’s unifying factors are based on its linking “progress” to improvements in equity within a country as well as its ability to link specific constraints in health care delivery, and strategies addressing these constraints, to changes in mortality, morbidity, and malnutrition.
EQUIST can be used for national and sub-national health planning exercises. In this context, EQUIST will help analysts and planners address issues of equity specifically in the areas of maternal, newborn and child health and nutrition. It will also provide cost effective options to do so. It is important to understand that EQUIST implicitly recognises that a health system is not uniformly identical within a country; equity in this contexts means that a system delivers similar results in terms of coverage and impact for all populations. Achieving the goal of equal impact may require different setups, system organization, and programmatic emphases in different parts of a country or for different target populations (Carrera et al 2012).
For this reason, the tool helps users to conduct an in-depth analysis of the situation of the disadvantaged populations in a country, while the effective coverage achieved by better-off populations are used as benchmarks for coverage of the most disadvantaged. Beyond this visualization of coverage levels among the least disadvantaged, users of EQUIST are directed to focus explicitly on issues affecting various disadvantaged populations in their countries individually.