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Soc Sci Med. 1989;29(10):1163-74.

Low utilization of community health workers: results from a household interview survey in Burkina Faso.

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Department of Pediatrics, University of Heidelberg, F.R.G.


A representative household survey was carried out in order to study the utilization of community health workers (CHW) in relation to other sources of health care. We found three main results: (1) For mild diseases, villagers consulted their CHW only in 8.8% of mild diseases, in 69% the family remained the main provider of primary care. (2) In the case of serious diseases, which the CHW was supposed to identify and refer, the villagers bypassed the CHW in 96.5%. The professional health worker were consulted directly in the majority of serious disease. (3) Sick infants were not taken to the CHW for treatment. (4) No pattern of referral between professional and CHWs could be traced. Severity of disease and perceived effectiveness of the treatment were the most important determinants of health seeking behavior. Availability, distance, and cost of travel and drugs were important service related determinants. Individual and household characteristics such as income, ethnicity, and household size were only weakly associated with choice of curative care. Reasons for the low utilization of CHWs are outlined and policy implications discussed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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