BME 388: Healthcare Technology in Resource Poor Environments

Quarter Offered

Winter : South Africa ; Kelso, Glucksberg


Open to participants in the Global Health Technologies Program only



This course introduces students to health systems in the context of disease burden with special emphasis in developing countries.  We examine the role of infectious disease, nutrition, prenatal care, and access to health care as challenges faced by developing countries. The course focuses primarily on health-related issues confronting South Africa as well as their impact on demographics of the disease burden and the associated social and economic impact.

Who Takes It

Required for participants in the Global Health Technologies Program.

what it's about

How the South African and other regional primary healthcare (PHC) systems work. Prerequisites for well-functioning District-based PHC System; ideal size of a health district; hospitals, PHC and the DHS; the referral system and integration of services; key challenges and unresolved issues in establishing the district-based PHC service in SA. Hospitals, hospital care and hospital reform. National health insurance.  Human resources for health. Home-based/community-based care in SA. Environmental health, including water-, sanitation-, food- and malaria controls. Roles of communities, civil organizations, private sector and NGOs. Public-private partnerships. African traditional healing and traditional healthcare systems.


  • Disease and disability
  • Chronic diseases and conditions in Southern Africa
  • Infectious diseases in sub-Saharan Africa
  • Contextualizing Health Systems and Healthcare – Global Perspectives
  • Contextualizing Health Systems and Healthcare – South Africa pre-1994
  • Healthcare Policy Framework – South Africa (post-1994)
  • Primary Health Care (PHC) & District Health System (DHS)
  • Integration of healthcare services and related activities


No textbook. Students will be assigned multiple primary sources of information and review articles to develop a comprehensive background in the both technology and the use environment.