Voluntary Sector and Urban Health Systems

Authored by: Andrew Power , Mark Skinner

Handbook of Global Urban Health

Print publication date:  May  2019
Online publication date:  May  2019

Print ISBN: 9781138206250
eBook ISBN: 9781315465456
Adobe ISBN:


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Beyond the role of the state and private sector, the task of responding to increasingly complex challenges in delivering urban health care in the early 21st century is being met by the voluntary sector. This chapter outlines some of the key critical points of debate concerning how the voluntary sector has moved into this focal position. The first half of the chapter traces how the role of the voluntary sector has followed a complex trajectory since being ‘rediscovered’ by the state in the 1970s, defined by three phases: as panacea, paradox, and precarity. The second half of this chapter explores how the voluntary sector is both ‘in’ and ‘of’ cities: voluntary organisations concentrate there, but they have also cultivated greater cultural proximity and solidarity with urban residents’ local values. Yet relying on a sector that by default is more decentralised and organic becomes a challenge in contexts where urban space is marked by various pressures around the precarity of health services.

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