Health Care Switching Behaviour Of Malaria Patients In A Kenyan Rural Community
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Patients ordinarily use multiple sources of health care. This study reveals the transitions patients in a rural region of Gusii, Kenya are likely to make beyond the homestead in their search for alternatives to combat malaria. Malaria is a very common health problem in the region resulting in enormous human and economic losses. Data on health care seeking behaviour were collected over a 10-month period. The primary data for this paper is from malaria-focused ethnographic interviews with 35 adults (18 women and 17 men). Results show that patients are more likely to start with self-treatment at home as they wait for a time during which they observe their progress. This allows them to minimise expenditure incurred as a result of the sickness. They are more likely to choose treatments available outside the home during subsequent decisions. The decisions include visiting a private health care practitioner, a government health centre or going to a hospital when the situation gets desperate. Knowledge and duration of sickness, the anticipated cost of treatment, and a patient's judgement of the intensity of sickness determine their choice of treatment.