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One of the critical interventions for health service provision is having functioning primary health clinics. Examples of services that community clinics can provide are treatment of malaria, sexually transmitted infections, and pneumonia, as well as prevention interventions such as childhood vaccinations, HIV testing and counseling, contraceptive provision, and antenatal care. More sophisticated health centers or hospitals are indispensable for emergency obstetric care, antiretroviral treatment, and safe abortion services (where permitted by law) as well as for treating referrals of severe cases from lower levels of the system. But few people in the developing world have access to facilities providing these services--because the facilities do not exist or lack basic equipment, essential medicines, or trained staff, because the lack of roads or transport prevents people from reaching them, or because people cannot afford the fees charged for even the most basic services. And even where facilities are accessible and affordable, cultural obstacles, poor information, perceptions of poor quality (often justified), and a lack of trust may mean that they are not used. In sub-Saharan Africa, the met need for emergency obstetric care--the proportion of women with direct obstetric complications treated in emergency obstetric care facilities--can be as low as 5 percent.

In the MV Sim, building a clinic in the village will accelerate the recovery of sick members of the household, particularly if electricity is also available. In addition, a clinic accelerates the recovery time of villagers during a malaria epidemic. Finally, a clinic decreases the likelihood of maternal mortality.

For more information:

Macroeconomics and Health: Investing in Health for Economic Development, Executive Summary. Report of the Commission on Macroeconomics and Health, World Health Organization, December 2001.