This is a review of the current thinking on issues of health and poverty in Africa. Its purpose is to provide the basis for a programme of work to support and design the implementation of pro-poor health strategies in Africa.
The paper documents the general improvements in health status since the 1960s with a few countries being exceptions. Whilst HIV/AIDS and the resurgence of malaria and TB can partly explain the exceptions, there is also a link between a lack of basic health, water and sanitation infrastructure and poor health performance. Zambia is used as a case study.
Finally, the paper reviews recent methods for incorporating the results of cost-effectiveness studies into planning public health expenditure and argues that options for using public funds need to be assessed in terms of the extent to which they enable poor people to address their health needs and cope with health shocks.