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Health Policy Plan. 2012 Jul;27(4):288-300. doi: 10.1093/heapol/czr038. Epub 2011 May 12.

Addressing access barriers to health services: an analytical framework for selecting appropriate interventions in low-income Asian countries.

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Health Sector Support Programme, Luxembourg Development, Ministry of Health, PO BOX 7084, Vientiane, Lao PDR.


While World Health Organization member countries embraced the concept of universal coverage as early as 2005, few low-income countries have yet achieved the objective. This is mainly due to numerous barriers that hamper access to needed health services. In this paper we provide an overview of the various dimensions of barriers to access to health care in low-income countries (geographical access, availability, affordability and acceptability) and outline existing interventions designed to overcome these barriers. These barriers and consequent interventions are arranged in an analytical framework, which is then applied to two case studies from Cambodia. The aim is to illustrate the use of the framework in identifying the dimensions of access barriers that have been tackled by the interventions. The findings suggest that a combination of interventions is required to tackle specific access barriers but that their effectiveness can be influenced by contextual factors. It is also necessary to address demand-side and supply-side barriers concurrently. The framework can be used both to identify interventions that effectively address particular access barriers and to analyse why certain interventions fail to tackle specific barriers.

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