Lydia Kapiriri
Associate Professor, Health, Aging & Society

For countries with limited health-care resources, setting priorities necessitates hard decisions. How does HIV/AIDS stack up against maternal health? Where does cancer treatment fit into the mix? What about emergency services?

Lydia Kapiriri studies the factors that influence government decisions on these types of issues. In theory, decision makers can access data of many types to ensure their resources help the largest number of people in the most efficient way possible. But in reality, political influences often subvert the principles of equity and social justice.

Much of Kapiriri’s research involves low-income countries with more obvious resource limitations. But every country has a limited health-care budget – countries with more resources face more demands. Whether it’s Uganda or Canada, every country makes choices and faces conflicts when setting health-care priorities.

Kapiriri’s research offers a critical perspective of resource allocation, questioning what factors other than evidence-based decision making must be unpacked in order to make improvements in healthcare systems. How can vulnerable or marginalized populations have a say in decisions? What role to international organizations like the WHO play in internal priority setting? What processes can help promote transparency and accountability?

For older people, these decisions can become even more complex: an aging population both places more demands on a health-care system, and also plays into prejudicial attitudes toward the elderly. Kapiriri addresses these kinds of issues with rigorous fieldwork and astute analysis, driving toward processes that allow for the most equitable allocation of limited resources.
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