"Now There is No Treatment for Anyone": Health Care Seeking in Neoliberal Nicaragua
AuthorTesler, Laura Eve
KeywordsHealth Care Seeking
Political Economy of Health
AdvisorNichter, Mark A.
Committee ChairNichter, Mark A.
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractOver the course of the twentieth century, the quality, quantity and accessibility of health care services in Nicaragua were remarkably altered in accordance with the agendas of stakeholders in the national government and providers of "development aid", many of whose objectives were as much or more political as they were humanitarian. Much of the international health literature has focused on sociocultural factors that impact health care seeking, yet little research has been conducted on the political economic dimensions. This dissertation examines how sociocultural factors, political economy and social relations interacted in health care seeking decision-making among 50 poor and lower-middle-income households in Nicaragua, a country with high rates of poverty, child morbidity and child mortality. Attending to the ways that global and national policies were experienced in a local setting, the study provides an in-depth analysis of health care services in a country that has undergone three major regime changes within the last 25 years. How did the ideology of each regime influence health care, and how did the state influence both health staff and the lay population, especially with regards to people's expectations and understandings of the allocation of responsibility for health?The data indicate that health care services have significantly worsened during the recent years of neoliberal-oriented governance, concordant with an increase in economic insecurity. In conjunction with these macro-level processes, conditions of poverty have undermined people's ability to maintain longstanding reciprocal exchange relations and health care responsibilities. In ideology and praxis, the struggle between an ethos of solidarity and cooperation, versus one of individual competition and self-preservation, was engaged on a daily basis within and across extended households of kin, as well as between and among health care seekers and practitioners. Local level efforts to make up for the gap in government responsibility were limited precisely because the policies implemented by the government and international bodies undermined them. Neither the state nor civil society currently possesses the capacity to meet the basic health needs of the majority of Nicaraguans. For communities to thrive, the state must restore its safety net of health and other basic services.