World Health & Population

World Health & Population 12(4) April 2011 : 24-34.doi:10.12927/whp.2013.22337

Treating Common Illnesses among Children under Five Years: A Portrayal of Health-Seeking Behaviours and Practices in the Northern Areas of Pakistan

Babar T. Shaikh and Dave Haran


Background: Inappropriate practices and behaviours while treating a child's illness impede correct medical consultation. We studied the health seeking behaviours of people engaging with healthcare systems for the treatment of under-five children.

Methodology: In the Ghizer District of the Northern Areas of Pakistan, a descriptive cross-sectional household survey was conducted in a random sample of 25 communities. Respondents were either a parent or caregiver of the child.

Results: Malaria, fever and diarrhea were found in almost one third of the children under five. One third of respondents did not know the cause of the child's illness. For seeking quality care, the majority visit private clinics, but home remedies, traditional practices and consultation with a faith healer were also common. Lack of knowledge about the child's illness and not making it a priority, lack of money and restricted women's social mobility are factors behind the delayed consultation (median delay: 2 to 3 days).

Conclusion: Health education and health promotion programs must address the knowledge gaps about children's illnesses and advocate appropriate health-seeking behaviours. Issues around quality of care in government centres and affordability in the private health sector must be addressed in order to improve health service utilization.



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