Send to

Choose Destination
J Biosoc Sci. 2009 Jan;41(1):1-19. doi: 10.1017/S0021932008002885. Epub 2008 Jun 13.

Health-seeking behaviour for childhood malaria: household dynamics in rural Senegal.

Author information

Institute of Demography, University of Paris X, Paris, France.


Research on health care behaviour in sub-Saharan Africa usually considers the mother as the reference in the household when a child is sick. The study of health care management within the family is a key issue for understanding therapeutic rationales. This study was conducted in the region of Fatick in Senegal among 902 children with malaria-related fever. The data were taken from a retrospective quantitative survey conducted in all compounds of the DSS (Demographic Surveillance Site) of Niakhar. The results show that child care-taking is fundamentally a collective process: in 70.9% of out-of-home resorts, the treatment decision was collective. The health care process of 68.1% of morbid episodes involved several individuals. The involvement of the mother, the father and other relatives in the collective management of health care followed different logics. Each care-giver had a specific and complementary function depending on gender norms, intergenerational relations and characteristics of the family unit. Family management of illness aims at optimizing financial and human resources given the economic, logistical and social constraints on health care. Nevertheless, collective management also favoured home-based care, prevented good treatment compliance and delayed the resort to health facilities. These results suggest that health education campaigns should focus on an early involvement of fathers in health care-giving and also on the strengthening of the autonomy of mothers. Mothers' empowerment should give women more autonomy in their child's treatment choice. Lastly, there is a need to develop community health facilities and establish shared funding at the community level.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free full text

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Cambridge University Press Icon for HAL archives ouvertes
Loading ...
Support Center