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Free Content Fever treatment and household wealth: the challenge posed for rolling out combination therapy for malaria

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Summary Objective 

To investigate the variation in malaria parasitaemia, reported fever, care seeking, antimalarials obtained and household expenditure by socio-economic status (SES), and to assess the implications for ensuring equitable and appropriate use of antimalarial combination therapy. Methods 

A total of 2500 households were surveyed in three rural districts in southern Tanzania in mid-2001. Blood samples and data on SES were collected from all households. Half the households completed a detailed questionnaire on care seeking and treatment costs. Households were categorised into SES thirds based on an index of household wealth derived using principal components analysis. Results 

Of individuals completing the detailed survey, 16% reported a fever episode in the previous 2 weeks. People from the better-off stratum were significantly less likely to be parasitaemic, and significantly more likely to obtain antimalarials than those in the middle or poor stratum. The better treatment obtained by the better off led them to spend two to three times more than the middle and poor third spent. This reflected greater use of non-governmental organisation (NGO) facilities, which were the most expensive source of care, and higher expenditure at NGO facilities and drug stores. Conclusion 

The coverage of appropriate malaria treatment was low in all SES groups, but the two poorer groups were particularly disadvantaged. As countries switch to antimalarial combination therapy, distribution must be targeted to ensure that the poorest groups fully benefit from these new and highly effective medicines.

Keywords: antimalarials; combination therapy; equity; household; malaria; socio-economic status

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Ifakara Health Research and Development Center, Ifakara, Tanzania 2: London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London, UK 3: Division of Parasitic Diseases, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA, USA

Publication date: March 1, 2006


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