Social Scientist. v 5, no. 58-59 (May-June 1977) p. 114.


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RUTH SIDEL VICTOR W SIDEL

Health Care Services

THE LEADERS of many technologically poor countries feel that because of limited resources a choice must be made between the expansion of industrial production and the improvement of health services. Even in countries in which the leaders5 goals include just and equitable distribution of resources and priority for improvement in quality of life for those who now have the least, the choice is often difficult. It is possible—even probable—that technological improvements can., by improving the quality of life of the population, lead to improvements in health status greater than those produced by medical care services. Conversely, maximizing production requires healthy workers, and it is possible—even probable—that investment in certain types of health services can be useful in increasing productivity. Furthermore, medical care services (in contrast to health services), even if they do not materially improve productivity or health status, are increasingly demanded by people as themselves an important component of the quality of life.

Which to do first—industrialize or improve health services—or, more practically, since both must be done, how to allocate the scarce resources, is a pressing and difficult question in poor countries. Because of the methods used by China and the results, its choices and allocation of resources are of widespread interest in both technologically developed



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