Indexed on: 28 Apr '03Published on: 28 Apr '03Published in: International Journal for Equity in Health
Equality of health status is the health equity goal being pursued in developed countries and advocated by development agencies such as WHO and The Rockefeller Foundation for developing countries also. Other concepts of fair distribution of health such as equity of access to medical care may not be sufficient to equalise health outcomes but, nevertheless, they may be more practical and effective in advancing health equity in developing countries.A framework for relating health equity goals to development strategies allowing progressive redistribution of primary health care resources towards the more deprived communities is formulated. The framework is applied to the development of primary health care in post-independence Namibia.In Namibia health equity has been advanced through the progressive application of health equity goals of equal distribution of primary care resources per head, equality of access for equal met need and equality of utilisation for equal need. For practical and efficiency reasons it is unlikely that health equity would have been advanced further or more effectively by attempting to implement the goal of equality of health status.The goal of equality of health status may not be appropriate in many developing country situations. A stepwise approach based on progressive redistribution of medical services and resources may be more appropriate. This conclusion challenges the views of health economists who emphasise the need to select a single health equality goal and of development agencies which stress that equality of health status is the most important dimension of health equity.