Inclusion of vulnerable groups in health policies : regional policies on health priorities in Africa

Schneider, Margie ; Eide, Arne Henning ; Amin, Mutamad ; MacLachlan, Malcom ; Mannan, Hasheem (2013-01)

CITATION: Schneider, M., et al. 2013. Inclusion of vulnerable groups in health policies : regional policies on health priorities in Africa. African Journal of Disability, 2(1): 1-9, doi: 10.4102/ajod.v2i1.40.

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Background: If access to equitable health care is to be achieved for all, policy documents must mention and address in some detail different needs of groups vulnerable to not accessing such health care. If these needs are not addressed in the policy documents, there is little chance that they will be addressed at the stage of implementation. Objectives: This paper reports on an analysis of 11 African Union (AU) policy documents to ascertain the frequency and the extent of mention of 13 core concepts in relation to 12 vulnerable groups, with a specific focus on people with disabilities. Method: The paper applied the EquiFrame analytical framework to the 11 AU policy documents. The 11 documents were analysed in terms of how many times a core concept was mentioned and the extent of information on how the core concept should be addressed at the implementation level. Each core concept mention was further analysed in terms of the vulnerable group in referred to. Results: The analysis of regional AU policies highlighted the broad nature of the reference made to vulnerable groups, with a lack of detailed specifications of different needs of different groups. This is confirmed in the highest vulnerable group mention being for ‘universal’. The reading of the documents suggests that vulnerable groups are homogeneous in their needs, which is not the case. There is a lack of recognition of different needs of different vulnerable groups in accessing health care. Conclusion: The need for more information and knowledge on the needs of all vulnerable groups is evident. The current lack of mention and of any detail on how to address needs of vulnerable groups will significantly impair the access to equitable health care for all.

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