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Acta Trop. 2009 Dec;112(3):283-7. doi: 10.1016/j.actatropica.2009.08.013. Epub 2009 Aug 14.

Public and private sector treatment of malaria in Lao PDR.

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Department of Community and Global Health, Graduate School of Medicine, The University of Tokyo, Hongo 7-3-1, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo, Japan.


This study aimed to examine the care-seeking choices for treatment of a febrile illness compatible with malaria in the public and private sectors in Lao PDR. We conducted interviews with 745 heads of household in 14 villages in the Sekong province, using a structured-questionnaire. We asked each about who the care-providers were for febrile illness episodes affecting their household members during the past year. If patients used more than one care-provider for a single episode over a period of time, we identified patterns of the care-sequences for the initial and subsequent care choices. Then, we analyzed the relationship between the initial care choices and secondary care choices for care-providers by Chi-square test, categorizing care-providers into public (hospital, health centre, and village health volunteer) and private care-providers (private pharmacy, informal retailer, faith healing and herbs). As a result, we found that 624 patients sought care at least once, 255 (40.9%) twice, and 66 (10.6%) three times or more during a single episode. Of 138 patients who started with a public care-provider and then sought a secondary care, 71 (51.4%) switched to a private care-provider. In contrast, of 117 patients who started with a private care-provider and then sought a secondary care, 82 (70.1%) switched to a public care-provider (p<0.001). In conclusion, although most patients who failed being treated by a private care-provider switched to a public one, some exclusively relied on care within the private sector. An intervention is necessary to make the private sector an integral component of malaria treatment in Lao PDR.

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