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Year : 2021  |  Volume : 26  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 11-16

The inverse care law: implications for universal health coverage in Nigerian rural communities

1 Department of Community Medicine, University of Calabar, Calabar, Nigeria
2 Department of Preventive and Social Medicine, University of Port Harcourt, Nigeria

Correspondence Address:
Aniekan Etokidem
Department of Community Medicine, University of Calabar, Calabar.
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/ijmh.IJMH_38_19

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Background: The inverse care law states that the availability of good healthcare tends to vary inversely with the need for it in the population served. This situation is easily observable in developing countries like Nigeria, and poses a threat to the attainment of universal health coverage (UHC) in rural communities. Objective: To examine how the inverse care law plays out in the Nigerian healthcare system, and how this may lead to a difficulty in achieving UHC in rural communities. Materials and Methods: Standard procedures were used in locating, selecting, extracting and synthesizing data. Electronic databases and internet resources such as PubMed, Google Scholar, SCOPUS and Web of Science were searched. Selection of studies was conducted by a two-stage process. Data extraction was done using data extraction forms. During data synthesis, major themes, strengths, weaknesses and critical gaps in each paper were identified. Results: There are several factors that boost the operation of the inverse care law in the Nigerian healthcare system. How this poses a threat to the attainment of UHC has also been documented. Among these are limitations in the range of services provided in rural healthcare facilities, inadequate production and maldistribution of health personnel, and low health manpower retention in rural areas. Conclusion: There is a need for concerted efforts by the government to address the factors that facilitate the inverse care law in the Nigerian healthcare system. This is necessary for the attainment of UHC specifically and the Sustainable Development Goal number three generally.

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