Poverty and health care demand in Kenya
Awiti, Japheth O
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Background There is a wide range of actions an individual could take when sick or injured such as self–care, consulting a traditional healer, or seeking treatment from a private or public health care facility. The specific action taken is influenced by individual characteristics, provider characteristics, societal factors, and geographical factors. A key individual characteristic is the ability to afford the required health care. The study examines the effect of poverty on an individual’s choice of a health care provider in the event of sickness or injury in Kenya. Methods Using data from the Kenya Integrated Household and Budget Survey carried out between 2005 and 2006, we estimate a multinomial probit model that links an individual’s poverty status to the individual’s health care provider choice. The choices are classified as none, non-modern, and modern. The model is estimated for four age groups: infants, children aged 1 to 5 years, children aged 6 to 14 years, and adults. We control for the potential endogeneity of poverty status. Results Our results indicate that for all age groups, the predictors of poverty include large household sizes and longer distances to the nearest health facility. We further find that poverty reduces the probability of visiting a modern health care provider amongst all age groups. Conclusions Poverty has a negative effect on the individual’s demand for modern health care services, holding other factors constant. To encourage the use of modern health care facilities, therefore, requires the pursuit of poverty–reduction strategies. Some of the ways this could be done include lowering the household sizes and reducing the average distance to modern health care facilities.