Health seeking behaviour in relation to Tuberculosis among Somali women in Nairobi
Nyamera, Hellen K
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The Sub-Saharan Africa region is most affected by TB due to high AIDS cases. Literature on health seeking behaviour indicates that people perceive this disease variously. They have their own views and beliefs about the causes, symptoms, modes of transmission and therapy choices, which probably affect their health seeking behaviour. Therefore the study sought to unveil these beliefs and perceptions. The main objective of the study was to explore the Somali female patients' perceptions on TB and how these perceptions affect their health seeking behaviour and Compliance to therapy. Specifically the study sought to determine influence of socio-demographic characteristics of the female patients on attendance at the clinic, explore the female patients' perception about the symptoms of TB, examine factors that influence therapy choices and those that influence TB treatment compliance. A sample of 100 female patients was purposely selected in Eastleigh City Council clinic. A standardized questionnaire was administered to the female patients to gather quantitative data. Also focus group discussions, interview with key informants and case histories were used to collect qualitative data to enrich that collected through the survey. Because of the nature of data collected both qualitative and quantitative methods were employed in the data analysis. The findings indicate that the majority who attend the clinic are the young, married and literate female patients. Also majority of the female patients (over 70%) are aware of the symptoms and causes of TB. However, some misinterpret the disease hence delayed action and wrong therapy choices. Besides the misinterpretation of the disease, other factors such as: distance, perceived effectiveness of a therapy and cost were found to have an effect on health seeking behaviour of female patients. On compliance to therapy, the study reveals that patients do abuse drugs and get reinfected. Some factors that lead to this behaviour include: long TB regimens, transportation cost, lack of knowledge about the risks associated with non-compliance to therapy. The study recommends that lay female patients should be educated on the causes, symptoms and transmission because even though the findings indicate that the majority are knowledgeable about TB, some hold misconceptions, which need to be corrected for an effective fight against TB. This should be done through public media, seminars, friends and relatives and schools/mosques. The study found that public media, friends and relatives playa major role in information dissemination. There should also be active case detection to ensure that treatment starts early. Finally, the government and other concerned bodies should make health facilities to have enough personnel.