Society for Medical Anthropology
Oral Presentation Session
In global health today, we see a growing demand for counting and standardization. This is perhaps not surprising as statistics, population counts and other types of regulations have been important elements in the shaping of the modern state. Moreover, standards create homogeneity and facilitate coordination both on national and global scales. The health care system in Burkina Faso is following this trend by adjusting their local health system guidelines to the recommendations of WHO. Drawing on long-term research engagement in Burkina Faso, this paper examines health seeking practices of rural citizens and look into the diagnostic routines and reporting at two rural dispensaries. I argue here that standardizations and routinizations of public health services combined with villagers’ very pragmatic use - and non-use - of the primary health care facilities produce metrics that confirm the government’s priority of malaria as the most important health problem in the country, in so doing, many other serious health care problems become absent in the health statistics. I term this a supply-demand trap, where rural citizens demand those services at the dispensary, which they know, the system is able to supply.