Civil wars can create a boom for private sector health care providers. The destruction of the state health system during war creates a power-vacuum of health care provision, incentivizing private actors to establish themselves in domains previously the responsibility of the government. In Uganda and Colombia, this privatization was at least partially caused by a decrease in public-sector health worker salaries during the war to below subsistence levels. This forced health workers to supplement their income with private practices. The private sector boom was more pronounced in Lebanon. Much of Lebanon’s government health facilities were destroyed during the country’s civil war. The destruction created an opportunity for private health care providers to fill the void left by the crumbling public health system. After the war this system became the norm, with much of the population relying on a large private health sector and the government mostly relegated to the role of subsidizing the cost of private health care. Before the war only ten percent of the Ministry of Health’s budget was spent on caring for patients in private facilities, however by the late 1990s it had risen to 80 percent.
Christopher R. Albon is a political science Ph.D. specializing in armed conflict, public health, human security, and health diplomacy.