Revisiting Structural Adjustment Programs in Sub-Saharan Africa: A Long-Lasting Impact on Child Health



The process of globalization, particularly in developing countries, has been significantly accelerated through the global economic policies implemented by major international financial institutions such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank. While the primary goal of these neoliberal policies was geared towards financial stability and economic development, there is evidence of negative impacts of these policies on the health of the population in the countries of the third world. This paper explores this issue by reviewing Structural Adjustment Programs (SAPs) and their impact on child health in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). It examines the possible pathways and causal links between SAPs and child health in SSA. We argue that the adoption of SAPs by countries in SSA and the market-driven approach to healthcare has played a detrimental role in worsening indicators of child health in the region. The paper underscores the importance of looking beyond the indicators of purely economic growth when global macroeconomic policies are implemented. Linking specific macroeconomic policies with health opens up avenues for investigation of the conditions required for healthier populations. Besides the general indicators of population health, particular attention should be given to the often neglected, yet too sensitive to the impact of economic policies, indicators of child health. The paper highlights the value of healthy public policy and the role of the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) in adding health to the agenda of policymakers across sectors and levels of government. It concludes by promoting the value of effective global action in the face of the global economy and trade.