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J Health Popul Nutr. 2003 Sep;21(3):205-15.

Equity in self-reported adult illness and use of health service in South Africa: inter-temporal comparison.

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  • 1Health Economics Unit, University of Cape Town, Anzio Road, Observatory 7925, South Africa.


The study was carried out to assess the magnitude of, and change in, inequities in self-reported adult illness and use of healthcare and to consider the policy implications of the findings. Datasets from three household surveys carried out in 1993, 1995, and 1998 were used. Inequities were measured using illness and healthcare-use concentration indices. Self-reported adult illness was greater among the rich in 1993, but this was reversed to reflect higher levels of reported illness among the poor in 1995 and 1998. Inequities were observed in self-reported injury and disability/chronic illness that favour the rich. The poor also reported more days of sickness compared to the rich. Overall, there were higher levels of use of doctors and hospital services by the rich, relative to their levels of reported illness. In contrast, there was a greater use of public-sector facilities by the poor. The time taken to reach a health facility also had a bias in favour of the rich. Although there were some favourable changes in the levels of inequities between the three time periods, there still remained considerable inequities that favoured the rich in self-reported adult illness and use of health services that need to be addressed. The consequences of higher concentration of chronic illness/disability and injury among the poor have far-reaching negative consequences on the socioeconomic welfare of the individuals and households. Redressing these inequities needs a holistic strategy that transcends the health sector.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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