Natural calamities and 'the Big Migration': Challenges to the Mongolian health system in 'the Age of the Market'

Global Public Health

PubMedID: 25132243

Lindskog BV. Natural calamities and 'the Big Migration': Challenges to the Mongolian health system in 'the Age of the Market'. Glob Public Health. 2014;9(8):880-93.
Beginning with the demise of the socialist state system in 1990, Mongolia embarked on a process of neoliberal economic reform, initiating what is known among the Mongols as 'the Age of the Market'. The socialist health system has been replaced by a series of reforms initiated and substantiated by foreign donor organisations. This paper critically examines Mongolia's health system and discusses the extent to which this 'system', despite its provision of universal, accessible and essential primary health care services, is unable to accommodate the health needs of poor urban in-migrants and nomadic herders in remote provinces. With a particular focus on recurrent natural winter disasters (dzud) and an escalating rural to urban migration, the paper argues that the issues of access to health services and health system strengthening must be understood in relation to factors external to the health system. Ethnographic research highlights that despite a growing economy, considerable external aid and an established primary health care model, weak rural politics, environmental challenges and economic constraints create escalating health vulnerability among the poorest in Mongolia.