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The historical context of health care in Africa

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Chapter Summary

The context provided by a political economic history sheds light on the commoditization and commercialization of health care and the dynamic processes of integration of the traditional, the Islamic, and the western health care sectors. A political economic history of health care in Africa provides an overview that speaks to contention and competition that can be read through an examination of systems of health care and their interaction at the level of general political economy. The imposition of the powers of the state and their maintenance through the health care apparatus— colonial, or otherwise—can be witnessed in the struggle for health care itself. Various systems of health care have evolved in Africa within their own very specific socio-political economic contexts. There are several implications concerning the political economic nature of health care in precolonial Africa. Traditional practitioners, as individuals and as a class, acquired a “privileged” position in their communities.

Keywords: Africa; commercialization; commoditization; health care; political economic history; traditional practitioners



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