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Intra-household differences in health seeking behaviour for orphans and non-orphans in an NGO-supported and non-supported subcounty of Luwero, Uganda

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Abstract:

Objective: Comparing healthcare dynamics among orphans and non-orphans in an NGO supported and a non-supported subcounty so as to identify the level of equity. Design and Methods: This was a cross-sectional unmatched case-control research. A sample of 98 orphans and 98 non-orphans in an NGO supported sub-county and a similar number in a control sub-county participated. For each child, a corresponding caregiver participated. Each respondent was interviewed. Analysis was comparative. Relationships between variables were ascertained using a X2. Results: Fevers were the most common health problem. However, 14.3% of children reported an experience of diarrhoea in an NGO-supported sub-county as opposed to 85.7% in the control sub-county (p = 0.014). Twenty percent of children in the NGO supported sub-county reported skin infections compared to 80% in the control sub-county [p= 0.008]. When orphans fell sick, more caregivers in the supported sub-county consulted village clinics compared to self herbal-medication (p = 0.009). Majority of orphan caregivers compared to those for non-orphans in the control sub-county took their children to village clinics as opposed to health centres (p = 0.002). In the control sub-county, fewer caregivers responded to children’s illness by buying medicines from drug-shops as opposed to taking them to village clinics [(p = 0.040). Conclusion: There were some differences between orphans and non-orphans within each sub-county and between orphans in the two sub-counties. NGO support is critical in cultivating equity, compassion and non-discrimination. The extended family system in Africa was managing orphan care although it displayed cracks in support systems.

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