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Free Content Determinants of health-seeking behaviour for schistosomiasis-related symptoms in the context of integrating schistosomiasis control within the regular health services in Ghana

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Morbidity control of schistosomiasis through integration within existing health care delivery systems is considered a potentially sustainable and cost-effective approach. We conducted a questionnaire-based field study in a Ghanaian village endemic for both urinary and intestinal schistosomiasis to determine whether infected individuals self-reported to health centres or clinics and to identify factors that influenced their decision to seek health care. A total of 317 subjects were interviewed about having signs and symptoms suggestive of schistosomiasis: blood in urine, painful urination, blood in stool/bloody diarrhoea, abdominal pain, diarrhoea, swollen abdomen and fatigue within 1 month of the day of the interview. Fever (for malaria) was included as a disease of high debility for comparison. Around 70% with blood in urine or painful urination did not seek health care, whilst diarrhoea, blood in stool, abdominal pain and fever usually led to action (mainly self-medication, with allopathic drugs being used four to five times more often than herbal treatment). On average 20% of schistosomiasis-related signs and symptoms were reported to health facilities either as the first option or second and third alternative by some of those that self-medicated. A few of those who visited a clinic or health centre as first option still self-medicated afterwards. Children under 10 years and adults were more likely to seek health care than teenagers. Also, females were more likely to visit a health facility than males of the same age groups. Socio-economic status and duration of symptoms did not appear to affect health-seeking behaviour. ‘Do not have the money’ (43%) and ‘Not serious enough’ (41%) were the commonest reasons for not visiting a clinic, reported more frequently by lower and higher socio-economic classes, respectively, for both urinary or intestinal schistosomiasis. The regular health service shows some potential in passive control of schistosomiasis as some, but far too few, people visit a health facility as first or second option.

Keywords: Ghana; health services; health-seeking behaviour; integration; schistosomiasis

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1:  Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research, University of Ghana, Legon, Ghana 2:  Department of Public Health, Erasmus MC, University Medical Center Rotterdam, Rotterdam, The Netherlands

Publication date: July 1, 2004

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