Barriers to accessing health care services for children with disabilities in Southern Africa: The case of Namibia


Publication date



Oslo and Akershus University College

Document type


Master in International Social Welfare and Health Policy


In developing countries there has been a reduction in infant and child mortality as a result of advancement in disease management and socio-economic developments. Within this survivor group are children with disabilities. Despite the high potential that adequate health care interventions hold for the improvements in quality of life for this vulnerable group, health care access has remained limited in many parts of southern Africa, Namibia included. This poor access to health care presents challenges to realizing the rights as envisaged by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disability and to the attainment of the health for all initiatives. In order to assist with improving the health outcomes of children with disabilities, this study was formulated to review the literature on the barriers to access which prevent children with disabilities from utilizing health services in southern African countries with a particular focus on Namibia. The review found out that the barriers to access occur when the density of health care facilities is low and in settings where the transportation system, road networks and infrastructure is poor. Most of the studies under review further noted that even in cases where health services are well distributed and available other factors act as barriers to access. These factors include limited financial resources and poor quality of health services. Of paramount importance was the interplay between poverty and access to healthcare. With the analysis finding that use of health care services is rationalized on a cost benefit ratio. Given the complexities of the challenges that children with disabilities face when accessing health care service, it is becoming essential to strengthen the human rights based approaches to ensure equitable access to health care services.


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