The challenge of hospitals in health sector reform: the case of Zambia.
2001 (English)In: Health Policy and Planning, ISSN 0268-1080, E-ISSN 1460-2237, Vol. 16 Suppl 2, 29-43 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Zambia underwent a period of health sector reform from 1993 to 1998. The reform attracted substantial support from the World Bank and bilateral donors. While significant achievements were made with respect to decentralization, increased accountability and donor collaboration, the reform stalled in 1998 without having achieved its objectives, largely because of the handling of hospital reform and the civil servants in the health sector. This study was an attempt to analyze this experience with the hospital issue. Service and infrastructure information was collected from all 88 hospitals in the country. Further, information was collected about the social, economic, and political context of the reform. The results show that an historical legacy from the colonial and post-colonial eras has left the country with an expensive and skewed hospital structure that is rapidly deteriorating and very difficult to reform. The referral system is not functioning: higher-level hospitals provide a higher level of care to their immediate catchment populations than is available to the population in general. The reality is thus far from the vision of equity of access to cost-effective quality care. Zambian doctors have either left the country or are concentrated at the highest referral levels in two provinces, leaving the lower levels and most of the country in the hands of expatriate doctors. There are no resources in the government or the private systems to maintain the current hospital infrastructure and things will likely deteriorate unless radical decisions are taken and implemented. The study further shows that the question of hospital reform is a political high-risk zone. If the problems are to be dealt with, the Zambian planners must, together with the politicians, work to create a broad national consensus for understanding the situation, its urgency, and the limited options for forward action.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2001. Vol. 16 Suppl 2, 29-43 p.
Medical and Health Sciences
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:norden:org:diva-3791PubMedID: 11772988OAI: oai:DiVA.org:norden-3791DiVA: diva2:787364