The sector-wide approach in health: What is it? Where is it leading?

David Peters, Shiyan Chao

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

47 Scopus citations


This paper describes early experience with the Sector-Wide Approach (SWAp), an emerging trend in development practice in low-income countries. The paper describes what a SWAp is, and why it is now being pursued. The SWAp is characterized as a sustained government-led partnership with donor agencies and other groups. By applying sector-wide policies to an expenditure framework and national implementation systems, explicit health sector reforms are undertaken to meet sectoral and national development objectives. The approach has changed the dynamic between governments and donor agencies, requiring systemic changes in policy-making and management in both governments and donor agencies. With the SWAp, ongoing joint assessment and negotiations around sectoral plans and review of performance replaces the old way of preparing and supervising projects. Early experiences in countries undergoing SWAps are discussed, including the problem of reconciling priority programs and old practices with broader health sector reforms and new ways of managing development assistance. The paper concludes by identifying some of the key challenges for the future of SWAps.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)177-190
Number of pages14
JournalInternational Journal of Health Planning and Management
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1998
Externally publishedYes


  • Aid
  • Development assistance
  • Health planning
  • Health reforms
  • International health policy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy


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