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Open Access Research

Treatment choices for fevers in children under-five years in a rural Ghanaian district

Justice Nonvignon12*, Moses KS Aikins1, Margaret A Chinbuah3, Mercy Abbey3, Margaret Gyapong2, Bertha NA Garshong3, Saviour Fia2 and John O Gyapong3

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Health Policy, Planning & Management, School of Public Health, College of Health Sciences, University of Ghana, PO Box LG 13, Legon, Ghana

2 Dodowa Health Research Centre, PO Box DD 1, Dodowa, Ghana

3 Research and Development Division, Ghana Health Service, PO Box 184, Accra, Ghana

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Malaria Journal 2010, 9:188  doi:10.1186/1475-2875-9-188

Published: 28 June 2010

Abstract

Background

Health care demand studies help to examine the behaviour of individuals and households during illnesses. Few of existing health care demand studies examine the choice of treatment services for childhood illnesses. Besides, in their analyses, many of the existing studies compare alternative treatment options to a single option, usually self-medication. This study aims at examining the factors that influence the choices that caregivers of children under-five years make regarding treatment of fevers due to malaria and pneumonia in a rural setting. The study also examines how the choice of alternative treatment options compare with each other.

Methods

The study uses data from a 2006 household socio-economic survey and health and demographic surveillance covering caregivers of 529 children under-five years of age in the Dangme West District and applies a multinomial probit technique to model the choice of treatment services for fevers in under-fives in rural Ghana. Four health care options are considered: self-medication, over-the-counter providers, public providers and private providers.

Results

The findings indicate that longer travel, waiting and treatment times encourage people to use self-medication and over-the-counter providers compared to public and private providers. Caregivers with health insurance coverage also use care from public providers compared to over-the-counter or private providers. Caregivers with higher incomes use public and private providers over self-medication while higher treatment charges and longer times at public facilities encourage caregivers to resort to private providers. Besides, caregivers of female under-fives use self-care while caregivers of male under-fives use public providers instead of self-care, implying gender disparity in the choice of treatment.

Conclusions

The results of this study imply that efforts at curbing under-five mortality due to malaria and pneumonia need to take into account care-seeking behaviour of caregivers of under-fives as well as implementation of strategies.