“Your Pocket is What Cures You: The Politics of Health in Senegal” by Ellen Foley: The Book Review

The book “Your Pocket is What Cures You: The Politics of Health in Senegal” written by Ellen Foley presents serious research on the theme of global public health and its connection to economical matters. Ellen Foley is an assistant professor at Clark University; she is engaged in the studies of international health development and social changes around the world and particular regions. In this book, the author relates numerous examples from many African countries which show the dependence between the different types of financing of a medical sector and the results which it leads to. The author is interested in highlighting the close connectivity between health, social position, social inequality, ethnicity, political economy and the medical care system. One of the most important problems addressed in the book is the problem of lack of financial support of public health services in particular countries leading to sad outcomes such as epidemics and even pandemics. Using the use of a community-level approach the author reasons the implementation of the world health policies and their contexture with the existing political and social differences in Senegal. Some of Foley’s main findings are in relating the close connection between the implementation of global health policies in the country of Senegal, and the issues they present before the physicians and the other participators of the public health sector; the author also makes an effort to establish a connection between public health matters and Wolof and Islam ethnic medicine and argues that those religious ideas are central in understanding the way local people cope with their vulnerability to the health problems.

Discussing the research questions addressed in the book under consideration, it should be stated that they are quite many. First of all, the author discusses urban and rural dilemmas presented with the implementation of global health policies. Secondly, Foley researches global health reform and the possibility of its implementation in Senegal along with its consequences for the country. Thirdly, the market-based policies and the Shantytown policies in Pikine, Islam biomedicine and Wolof medicine are also examined in the book as an ethnographic factor related to the issue of an improvement of medical care in the country. Finally, the author addresses gender and social exponents related to the public health sector in Senegal.

Concerning the specific problems which the author addresses in her research, it can be said that the main of them is the lack of financial support of public health service in Senegal leading to sad outcomes such as poor health conditions among the country’s population, regular epidemics and even pandemics. The other serious problems addressed in the book are the influence of ethnic matters affecting the vulnerability of the population to the health problems such as religious membership, gender politics and so on.

With regards to the author’s methods, it should be said that Foley mainly concentrates on a community-level approach. The author reasons the implementation of the world health policies and their contexture with the existing political and social differences in Senegal, and she does so on the level of particular communities within the country. These methods provide her with a specific vantage point on health using presenting the real situation in the sector of public health care. The strengths of her methods are in finding common tendencies within the community of people helping to implement important measures to reform the public health care sector; whereas the limitations of her methods are in the inability to explore the particular cases of individuals who may differ somehow from the rest of the community they live in.

The author’s main findings are connected to financing and funding for health care services. Funding for health care services is well acknowledged and known as a major way of improving the quality of services or products being offered to the population. It is also recognized as a key approach to improving the quality of life among the citizens, in general. To manage the funds of the government healthcare programs more efficiently particular educational programs directed to the promotion of healthy lifestyles are to be implemented in educational establishments. As a result of such educational programs, a significant amount of federal financial recourses will be saved; these funds may be applied for the governmental ensuring program. The abuse of the system by pharmaceuticals, hospitals, and doctors can be also mentioned as one of the primary problems in Senegal healthcare; thus, the author offers her strategy of the implementation of global public health policies within the country. Concerning the overlap between the author’s findings or arguments and other readings during this quarter, it can be said that the similarities are quite many including the proper strategy of the implementation of global health policies. The differences can be evaluated as rather insignificant, and mainly caused by the peculiarities of the situation within the main country of the author’s research which is Senegal.

Reflecting on the information related by Foley in her book, the problems existing in the Senegal healthcare system show the importance of the development of a new strategy in the area of governmental insuring and the implementation of new strategies of working with the population. Improvements are to be implemented both in urban and rural territories, but as rural territories are affected much worse than urban ones her proposal concentrates on the rural communities. Citizens in rural areas are plagued with chronic diseases caused by their unhealthy lifestyles causing severe medical conditions. Their lack of medical knowledge is one of the major reasons for their unhealthy lives. The author also makes an effort to establish a connection between public health matters and Wolof and Islam ethnic medicine. She argues that those religious ideas are central in understanding the way local people see the medical system and its benefits for their lives along with their vulnerability to health problems. A new health care policy is to be created and implemented into law that mandates the distribution of financing of a public healthcare sector. The federal incomes are to be managed more efficiently which may provide the basis for saving some of them for the more important areas. The saved money, in turn, are to be directed to the government insurance program to provide a basis for the population having no needed financial means to timely receive qualified medical help. As a final point, the results of this proposed shifting policy are expected to have a high positive impact in the field of health care financing concerning the mitigation of health conditions and status.