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

Authors

  • A. Danso-Appiah,

    1.  Department of Public Health, Erasmus MC, University Medical Center Rotterdam, Rotterdam, The Netherlands
    2.  Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research, University of Ghana, Legon, Ghana
    Search for more papers by this author
  • S. J. De Vlas,

    1.  Department of Public Health, Erasmus MC, University Medical Center Rotterdam, Rotterdam, The Netherlands
    2.  Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research, University of Ghana, Legon, Ghana
    Search for more papers by this author
  • K. M. Bosompem,

    1.  Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research, University of Ghana, Legon, Ghana
    Search for more papers by this author
  • J. D. F. Habbema

    1.  Department of Public Health, Erasmus MC, University Medical Center Rotterdam, Rotterdam, The Netherlands
    Search for more papers by this author

Authors
A. Danso-Appiah, S. J. De Vlas (corresponding author) and J. D. F. Habbema, Department of Public Health, Erasmus MC, University Medical Center Rotterdam, PO Box 1738, 3000 DR Rotterdam, The Netherlands. Tel.: +31 10 408 8285/7985; Fax: +31 10 408 9449; E-mail: s.devlas@erasmusmc.nl
K. M. Bosompem, Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research (NMIMR), University of Ghana, PO Box LG 581, Legon, Accra, Ghana.

Summary

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.

Ancillary