Healthcare in Algeria, according to information from a March 6, 2006 United States report, does not compare well with the developed world. Algeria has inadequate numbers of physicians (one per 1,000 people) and hospital beds (2.1 per 1,000 people) and poor access to water (87 percent of the population) and sanitation (92 percent of the population). Given Algeria’s young population, policy favors preventive health care and clinics over hospitals. In keeping with this policy, the government maintains an intensive immunization programme. However, poor sanitation and unclean water still cause tuberculosis, hepatitis, measles, typhoid fever, cholera, and dysentery. In 2003 about 0.10 percent of the population aged 15–49 was living with human immunodeficiency virus/acquired immune deficiency syndrome (HIV/AIDS). The poor generally receive health care free of charge, but the wealthy pay for care according to a sliding scale. Access to health care is enhanced by the requirement that doctors and dentists work in public health for at least five years. However, doctors are more easily found in the cities of the north than in the southern Sahara region.
The first public hospitals were built in Algiers, Oran and Annaba between 1883 and 1889, and in 1895 the first batch of native Algerian medical students graduated as doctors. However between 1914 and 1964, healthcare stagnated and only 50 hospital beds were added on average to the national stock, and only about 19 qualified doctors were added to the workforce on average every year.