Towards universal health coverage: The role of within-country wealth-related inequality in 28 countries in sub-Saharan Africa

Ahmad Reza Hosseinpoor, Cesar G. Victora, Nicole Bergen, Aluisio J D Barros, Ties Boerma

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Scopus citations


Objective To measure within-country wealth-related inequality in the health service coverage gap of maternal and child health indicators in sub-Saharan Africa and quantify its contribution to the national health service coverage gap. Methods Coverage data for child and maternal health services in 28 sub-Saharan African countries were obtained from the 2000-2008 Demographic Health Survey. For each country, the national coverage gap was determined for an overall health service coverage index and select individual health service indicators. The data were then additively broken down into the coverage gap in the wealthiest quintile (i.e. the proportion of the quintile lacking a required health service) and the population attributable risk (an absolute measure of within-country wealth-related inequality). Findings In 26 countries, within-country wealth-related inequality accounted for more than one quarter of the national overall coverage gap. Reducing such inequality could lower this gap by 16% to 56%, depending on the country. Regarding select individual health service indicators, wealth-related inequality was more common in services such as skilled birth attendance and antenatal care, and less so in family planning, measles immunization, receipt of a third dose of vaccine against diphtheria, pertussis and tetanus and treatment of acute respiratory infections in children under 5years of age. Conclusion The contribution of wealth-related inequality to the child and maternal health service coverage gap differs by country and type of health service, warranting case-specific interventions. Targeted policies are most appropriate where high within-country wealth-related inequality exists, and whole-population approaches, where the health-service coverage gap is high in all quintiles.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)881-890
Number of pages10
JournalBulletin of the World Health Organization
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2011
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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