n Journal of Public Administration - Impact of basic health services on the quality of life in poor communities : an empirical assessment




There is a widespread belief that access to infrastructure and services such as water and sanitation have direct effects on health. Thus, the delivery of health, water and sanitation services should ensure improved access to basic needs, enhance the health profile of poor communities and their access to employment opportunities. Safe clean water supplies and adequate sanitation services, therefore, are among the major determinants of health. The assumption is that health-related services such as water and sanitation should ensure a certain average life expectancy and eliminate mass disease and ill health. To test this general assumption, a comparative qualitative assessment was undertaken of this narrow model of services (health, water and sanitation services) that should have had an impact on improving the quality of life among poor communities. The empirical findings of this study indicate that these services are insufficient to draw conclusive findings. The research results provide support for the proposition that although the provision of health, potable water and adequate sanitation services lead to improvement in the standard of living, their impact alone does not incorporate all the attributes that enhance quality of life as suggested by mainstream schools of thought in the health sector. The findings show that poverty, combined with poor public health conditions, inadequate nutrition, overcrowded and poor quality housing, lack of accessible potable water and sanitation, render communities vulnerable to ill health.


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