A scoping review of the literature on the abolition of user fees in health care services in Africa

Health Policy Plan. 2011 Jan;26(1):1-11. doi: 10.1093/heapol/czq021. Epub 2010 Jun 14.


In Africa, user fees constitute a financial barrier to access to health services. Increasingly, international aid agencies are supporting countries that abolish such fees. However, African decision-makers want to know if eliminating payment for services is effective and how it can be implemented. For this reason, given the increase in experiences and the repeated requests from decision-makers for current knowledge on this subject, we surveyed the literature. Using the scoping study method, 20 studies were selected and analysed. This survey shows that abolition of user fees had generally positive effects on the utilization of services, but at the same time, it highlights the importance of implementation processes and our considerable lack of knowledge on the matter at this time. We draw lessons from these experiences and suggest avenues for future research.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Africa
  • Fees and Charges*
  • Health Care Reform
  • Health Services Accessibility / economics*
  • Humans
  • Politics