Public health care under pressure in sub-Saharan Africa

Health Policy. 2005 Mar;71(3):375-82. doi: 10.1016/j.healthpol.2004.06.002.


Taking as point of departure the need for a strong public health care sector in developing countries the article firstly outlines how in sub-Saharan Africa enhanced scarcity has characterized the content and quality of health care in the public sector. This has eroded the trust among the public in the government as provider of health care and guardian of public health. Secondly, it describes how workers in the public health domain have dealt with the implications of scarcity by etching out a "puvate" zone in health care provision and how these informal activities need to be interpreted as "muddling through". It also points out what are reactions of clients to a decline in public health care provision. Thirdly, it discusses the changing relation between the state as provider of health care and private sector health care provision at a time of emerging public-private partnerships. The article emphasizes the need for strong health services at basic health centre level. It is at that level that the state has to address problems of scarcity and regain public trust. It also is at that level where major long-term health policies like the imminent large-scale delivery of antiretrovirals (3by5) have to be accomplished.

MeSH terms

  • Africa South of the Sahara
  • Attitude to Health
  • Developing Countries*
  • Health Care Rationing
  • Health Personnel / psychology
  • Health Policy
  • Health Resources / supply & distribution*
  • Health Services Accessibility
  • Humans
  • Interinstitutional Relations
  • Private Sector
  • Public Health Administration / standards*
  • Public Health Administration / trends
  • Quality of Health Care / trends*
  • Trust
  • Uganda