Health Care Patterns and Planning in Developing Countries

By Rais Akhtar | Go to book overview

Preface and Acknowledgments

There are wide disparities in the availability of welfare facilities including those for health at the international, national and regional levels. In terms of spatial distribution such disparities are increasing over time both in developed and developing countries. It has been said that health care provision is simply a manifestation of society's organization and distribution of scarce resources in space. Particularly in the Third World this distribution often leads to inequalities and lack of social justice, and produces effects which appear out of context and are treated as individualistic health problems rather than measures of societal disfunction. The problems encountered in providing health care in developing countries include shortage of manpower, inadequate preventive and curative care to large populations, exorbitant prices for as well as short supply of drugs. All in addition to the physical, socio-economic and cultural constraints encountered in the utilization of health care resources. The maldistribution of health care resources is one of the most serious problems facing all developing countries, especially those with a colonial past. Geographical study of health care focuses on aspects concerning the facility and practitioner location, inequalities in accessibility, distance decay in utilization frequency, travel time and costs. These aspects are analyzed within the framework of the physical and socio-economic cultural and political conditions of a given situation.

This book has grown out of numerous studies on varied topics: the spatial organization of health care facilities, inequalities, accessibility, location allocation models, knowledge about health care systems in different cultures and illness and health beliefs in different developing countries. However, the main thrust in most chapters is on restructuring the health sector so that resources are

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