Access to and utilisation of health services for the poor in Uganda: a systematic review of available evidence

Trans R Soc Trop Med Hyg. 2008 Nov;102(11):1067-74. doi: 10.1016/j.trstmh.2008.04.023. Epub 2008 Jun 18.


Inequalities in the burden of disease and access to health care is a prominent concern in Uganda and other sub-Saharan African countries. This is a systematic review of socio-economic differences in morbidity and access to health care in Uganda. It includes published studies from electronic databases and official reports from surveys done by government, bilateral and multilateral agencies and universities. The outcome measures studied were: the distribution of HIV/AIDS; maternal and child morbidity; and access to and utilisation of health services for people belonging to different socio-economic and vulnerability groups. Forty-eight of 678 identified studies met our inclusion criteria. Results indicate that the poor and vulnerable experience a greater burden of disease but have lower access to health services than the less poor. Barriers to access arise from both the service providers and the consumers. Distance to service points, perceived quality of care and availability of drugs are key determinants of utilisation. Other barriers are perceived lack of skilled staff in public facilities, late referrals, health worker attitude, costs of care and lack of knowledge. Longitudinal and controlled studies are needed to see if strategies to improve access to services reach the poor.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Child
  • Child Health Services / statistics & numerical data*
  • Developing Countries
  • Female
  • HIV Infections / mortality*
  • Health Services Accessibility / economics*
  • Healthcare Disparities / economics*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Maternal Health Services / statistics & numerical data*
  • Poverty*
  • Quality of Health Care
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Uganda