Factors influencing the utilization of paediatric anti retroviral therapy services, a case of Embu District, Kenya
Children's health, particularly in the early years, forms the basis of future health and development. Pediatric ART utilization and adherence is complex and current levels are often suboptimal. The purpose of this study was to establish the factors influencing the utilization of pediatric anti retro-viral therapy services in Embu districts. The objectives of the study were to establish the extent to which the caregivers' individual or personal factors, societal factors and health care delivery systems influenced the utilization of pediatric ART services in Embu districts. This cross sectional study was carried out in Embu POH, Kibuga HC, Nembure HC, Kangaru Dispensary, Karau HC, Itabua Dispensary, Kithimu HC, Kairuri HC, Runyenjes DH and Kianjakoma SDH. It employed a mixed mode approach which involved combining qualitative and quantitative methods of data collection. The study used three methods to collect primary data; focused group discussion (FGD), a survey using a questionnaire and in depth interviews (lDIs). Descriptive statistics was obtained including frequencies and use of SPSS version 18 software. Qualitative data was generally analyzed through a process of content analysis for themes. The findings were that transport cost and user fee for other medical services,use of herbal medicine, and stigma,lack of appropriate paediatric formulations, poor packaging and frequent stock outs influenced paediatric ART utilization. Many of these influences complicate measurement of pediatric ART utilization since there is no gold standard. It was concluded that the prevalence of utilization (74%), was sub-optimal (less than 95%) but comparable to those in other developing countries. Based on these findings, to enhance paediatric ART utilization the study recommends to the government and other stakeholders to develop strategies to ensure food security in households with children living with HIV and AIDS, Intensify health education campaigns against stigma and promote family and community support for children living with HIV and AIDS and ensure that all public health facilities have a adequate personnel and stock of paediatric ARV drugs.