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Free Content Recognizing childhood illnesses and their traditional explanations: exploring options for care-seeking interventions in the context of the IMCI strategy in rural Ghana

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Summary Objectives

Interventions that promote appropriate care-seeking for severely ill children have the potential to substantially reduce child mortality in developing countries, but little is known about the best approach to address the issue. This paper explores the relative importance of illness recognition as a barrier to care-seeking and the feasibility and potential impact of improving recognition. Methods

The study combined qualitative and quantitative methods including in-depth interviews exploring the local illness classification system, a Rapid Anthropological Assessment (RAA) recording narratives of recent episodes of child illness and a survey designed to test the hypotheses that emerged from the RAA. Results

Several danger symptoms were not recognized by caregivers. There were recognition problems which may not be feasibly addressed in an intervention. Other significant care-seeking barriers included classifying certain illnesses as ‘not-for-hospital’ and untreatable by modern medicine; problems of access; and frequent use of traditional medicines. Conclusion

The recognition component of any care-seeking intervention should identify the type of recognition problem present in the community. Many of the care-seeking barriers identified in the study revolved around the local illness classification system, which should be explored and built on as part of any care-seeking intervention.
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Keywords: Ghana; IMCI; care-seeking; childhood illness; recognition

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Epidemiology and Population Health, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London, UK 2: Department of International Health and Development, Tulane School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, New Orleans, USA 3: LINKAGES Project, Accra, Ghana

Publication date: 01 July 2003

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