Exploring SWAp's contribution to the efficient allocation and use of resources in the health sector in Zambia

Collins Chansa, Jesper Sundewall, Di McIntyre, Göran Tomson, Birger C Forsberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Zambia introduced a sector-wide approach (SWAp) in the health sector in 1993. The goal was to improve efficiency in the use of domestic funds and externally sourced development assistance by integrating these into a joint sectoral framework. Over a decade into its existence, however, the SWAp remains largely unevaluated. This study explores whether the envisaged improvements have been achieved by studying developments in administrative, technical and allocative efficiency in the Zambian health sector from 1990-2006. A case study was conducted using interviews and analysis of secondary data. Respondents represented a cross-section of stakeholders in the Zambian health sector. Secondary data from 1990-2006 were collected for six indicators related to administrative, technical and allocative efficiency. The results showed small improvements in administrative efficiency. Transaction costs still appeared to be high despite the introduction of the SWAp. Indicators for technical efficiency showed a drop in hospital bed utilization rates and government share of funding for drugs. As for allocative efficiency, budget execution did not improve with the SWAp, although there were large variations between both donors and year. Funding levels had apparently improved at district level but declined for hospitals. Finally, the SWAp had not succeeded in bringing all external assistance together under a common framework. Despite strong commitment to implement the SWAp in Zambia, the envisaged efficiency improvements do not seem to have been attained. Possible explanations could be that the SWAp has not been fully developed or that not all parties have completely embraced it. SWAp is not ruled out as a coordination model, but the current setup in Zambia has not proved to be fully effective.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)244-51
Number of pages8
JournalHealth Policy and Planning
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2008 Jul
Externally publishedYes

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Health Care Service and Management, Health Policy and Services and Health Economy

Free keywords

  • Budgets
  • Delivery of Health Care, Integrated/organization & administration
  • Efficiency, Organizational
  • Health Resources/organization & administration
  • Health Services Research
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Models, Organizational
  • Organizational Case Studies
  • Program Development
  • Program Evaluation
  • Regional Health Planning/organization & administration
  • Resource Allocation
  • Zambia


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