Ideas and Policy Implementation: Understanding the Resistance against Free Health Care in Africa

By Daniel Béland and Valéry Ridde

Contributing to this special issue of Global Health Governance on “Political Science in Global Health,” this exploratory article draws attention to the potential role of ideas in policy implementation, a topic that has been relatively neglected in the contemporary political science literature on ideas and public policy. First, the article presents a review of this literature, which stresses the limited attention to implementation among students of policy ideas. Next, the article illustrates its main claims about the role of ideas in policy implementation through a discussion of the resistance of policy implementers against the removal of health-care user fees currently taking place in sub-Saharan Africa. In addition to making a contribution to the study of ideas in public policy, the article helps fill a gap in the literature on global health and policymaking in Africa, in which studies about policy implementation remain rare.