Poverty & Healthcare

A new system of medical care

At independence, health care services in Morocco were extremely poor, with basic and outdated equipment, a small number of health facilities and fewer than 1,000 doctors for the entire population.


Formed in 1982, the Ministry of Public Health has overseen good progress in healthcare, particularly with regards to family planning and the vaccination of children. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), under-five mortality rates have dropped to 38 in every 1,000 children (2009) and life expectancy is 73.

Since then, the number of health care facilities has increased to over 26,000 and there are more than 20,000 doctors in Morocco.

However, hospital spaces are still limited for the size of the population and coverage of rural areas remains poor, with some health centres closing due to lack of staff, equipment or medical supplies.

The government spends around 5% of the gross domestic product on the healthcare sector.

In 2005, new health insurance schemes were introduced to provide extra finance for medical provision. However, only five million people so far have cover.

Emergency and primary medical treatment is available on the state. But many Moroccans are unable to afford longer term or specialist medical care. The government has introduced a restructuring and decentralising plan (2008-2012) to try and remedy the unequal distribution of health services.

Access to clean water and sanitation

Since independence, the population of Morocco has grown from ten million to over 32 million today. This has placed a huge strain on housing. With many poor migrating to towns and cities (over half of Moroccans now live in urban areas), ‘tin cities’ have sprung up illegally with no access to water, electricity or sanitation services.

A programme of providing facilities and improving housing standards in cities has begun. In rural areas, traditional houses often lack access to public utilities.

Low incidence of HIV/AIDS

Compared to other African countries Morocco has a very low rate of HIV/AIDS infection. Around 26,000 people (0.1% of the population) live with the disease.

Nearly a third of Moroccans have no proper sanitation, putting them at risk of illnesses such as gastrointestinal infections, typhoid, malaria and trachoma. Tuberculosis also remains widespread, with 27,000 cases reported in 2009 (WHO).

With poverty particularly a problem in rural areas, around a tenth of children under five are underweight.