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Factors influencing access to pharmaceutical services in underserviced areas of the West Rand District, Gauteng Province, South Africa

Keywords: cost of health care , medical aid membership , pharmaceutical care , service provider choices , underserviced areas

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Abstract:

The study examined demographic and socio-economic factors that may influence pharmaceutical services (PS) in underserviced communities of the West Rand District, Gauteng Province, South Africa. A quantitative survey was conducted using structured questionnaires administered to the general public (n = 2014) in Bekkersdal, Kagiso, Mohlakeng, Munsville and Diepsloot townships. The questionnaire explored demographic details, employment and education status, income levels, payment methods and convenience of services. Of the respondents, 54.0% were women, 52.0% were unemployed; 65.0% had secondary educationor higher and > 70.0% had no income or earned < R1000 p.m. Unemployment was higher amongst women. Only 13.9% of respondents had medical aid membership, which influenced their choice of health provider, with the exception of pharmacy services which are notaffected by medical aid membership. Medical aid members were, however, more able to pay. Employment status and education also influenced the choice of provider, with most of the employed (66.0%) and educated (64.4%) preferring a pharmacy or GP. On pharmacist gender, 47.5% of respondents had no preference, 27.6% preferred male pharmacists, whilst 24.9% preferred female pharmacists. Men with preferences preferred male providers (77.0%), whilst female respondents preferred female providers (69.3%). Respondents with no formal education and those with low or no income expressed higher gender preferences rates than those with formal education or higher income, respectively. Thus, access to PS was influenced by gender, age, family income and education level. Whilst medical aid membership had no influence on access to PS, it influenced ability to pay. These factors should be considered by those wishing to offer PS in such areas.

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