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Legacies of primary health care in an age of health sector reform: Vietnam's commune clinics in transition

  • Fritzen, Scott A.
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    Developing countries that were early, enthusiastic adopters of primary health care often developed an extensive--but eventually dilapidated and under utilized--network of public clinics at the grassroots. As paradigms and investment patterns of health sector reform have shifted, the question of what role these public clinics can meaningfully play, and how best to revitalize them, has become important in a number of countries. This paper evaluates the strategy taken by, and outcomes of, a major attempt in Vietnam to revitalize the grassroots infrastructure of primary health care against the backdrop of the country's economic transition. The project's substantial supply-side investments in infrastructure led to marginal increases in utilization and the quality of preventive health services provided by the centers. But because the project failed to take adequate stock of broader, public sector-wide trends and reforms over the transition, the investments had little impact on the incentives, accountability patterns and capacities of clinic staff and the local authorities. Such institutional factors are heavily implicated, in Vietnam as elsewhere, in the substantial and often increasing disparities in service access and quality that continue to afflict transitional health sectors.

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    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Social Science & Medicine.

    Volume (Year): 64 (2007)
    Issue (Month): 8 (April)
    Pages: 1611-1623

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    Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:64:y:2007:i:8:p:1611-1623
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