Thirty years since its first public use in 1980, the phrase structural adjustment remains obscure for many anthropologists and public health workers. However, structural adjustment programs (SAPs) are the practical tools used by international financial institutions (IFIs) such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank to promote the market fundamentalism that constitutes the core of neoliberalism. A robust debate continues on the impact of SAPs on national economies and public health. But the stories that anthropologists tell from the field overwhelmingly speak to a new intensity of immiseration produced by adjustment programs that have undermined public sector services for the poor. This review provides a brief history of structural adjustment, and then presents anthropological analyses of adjustment and public health. The first section reviews studies of health services and the second section examines literature that assesses broader social determinants of health influenced by adjustment.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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