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      Health care seeking behavior for diarrhea in children under 5 in rural Niger: results of a cross-sectional survey

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          Abstract

          Background

          Diarrhea remains the second leading cause of death in children under 5 years of age in sub-Saharan Africa. Health care seeking behavior for diarrhea varies by context and has important implications for developing appropriate care strategies and estimating burden of disease. The objective of this study was to determine the proportion of children under five with diarrhea who consulted at a health structure in order to identify the appropriate health care levels to set up surveillance of severe diarrheal diseases.

          Methods

          A cluster survey was done on 35 clusters of 21 children under 5 years of age in each of four districts of the Maradi Region, Niger. Caretakers were asked about diarrhea of the child during the recall period and their health seeking behavior in case of diarrhea. A weighted cluster analysis was conducted to determine the prevalence of diarrhea, as well as the proportion of consultations and types of health structures consulted.

          Results

          In total, the period prevalence of diarrhea and severe diarrhea between April 24 th and May 21 st 2009 were 36.8% (95% CI: 33.7 - 40.0) and 3.4% (95% CI: 2.2-4.6), respectively. Of those reporting an episode of diarrhea during the recall period, 70.4% (95% CI: 66.6-74.1) reported seeking care at a health structure. The main health structures visited were health centers, followed by health posts both for simple or severe diarrhea. Less than 10% of the children were brought to the hospital. The proportion of consultations was not associated with the level of education of the caretaker, but increased with the number of children in the household.

          Conclusions

          The proportion of consultations for diarrhea cases in children under 5 years old was higher than those reported in previous surveys in Niger and elsewhere. Free health care for under 5 years old might have participated in this improvement. In this type of decentralized health systems, the WHO recommended hospital-based surveillance of severe diarrheal diseases would capture only a fraction of severe diarrhea. Lower levels of health structures should be considered to obtain informative data to ensure appropriate care and burden estimates.

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          Most cited references 28

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          WHO estimates of the causes of death in children.

          Child survival efforts can be effective only if they are based on accurate information about causes of deaths. Here, we report on a 4-year effort by WHO to improve the accuracy of this information. WHO established the external Child Health Epidemiology Reference Group (CHERG) in 2001 to develop estimates of the proportion of deaths in children younger than age 5 years attributable to pneumonia, diarrhoea, malaria, measles, and the major causes of death in the first 28 days of life. Various methods, including single-cause and multi-cause proportionate mortality models, were used. The role of undernutrition as an underlying cause of death was estimated in collaboration with CHERG. In 2000-03, six causes accounted for 73% of the 10.6 million yearly deaths in children younger than age 5 years: pneumonia (19%), diarrhoea (18%), malaria (8%), neonatal pneumonia or sepsis (10%), preterm delivery (10%), and asphyxia at birth (8%). The four communicable disease categories account for more than half (54%) of all child deaths. The greatest communicable disease killers are similar in all WHO regions with the exception of malaria; 94% of global deaths attributable to this disease occur in the Africa region. Undernutrition is an underlying cause of 53% of all deaths in children younger than age 5 years. Achievement of the millennium development goal of reducing child mortality by two-thirds from the 1990 rate will depend on renewed efforts to prevent and control pneumonia, diarrhoea, and undernutrition in all WHO regions, and malaria in the Africa region. In all regions, deaths in the neonatal period, primarily due to preterm delivery, sepsis or pneumonia, and birth asphyxia should also be addressed. These estimates of the causes of child deaths should be used to guide public-health policies and programmes.
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            Rotavirus and Severe Childhood Diarrhea

            Studies published between 1986 and 1999 indicated that rotavirus causes ≈22% (range 17%–28%) of childhood diarrhea hospitalizations. From 2000 to 2004, this proportion increased to 39% (range 29%–45%). Application of this proportion to the recent World Health Organization estimates of diarrhea-related childhood deaths gave an estimated 611,000 (range 454,000–705,000) rotavirus-related deaths.
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              Diarrhoea: why children are still dying and what can be done.

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                Author and article information

                Journal
                BMC Public Health
                BMC Public Health
                BioMed Central
                1471-2458
                2011
                25 May 2011
                : 11
                : 389
                Affiliations
                [1 ]Epicentre, Paris, France
                [2 ]Ministère de la Santé, Niamey, Niger
                [3 ]Direction Régionale de la Santé Publique, Maradi, Niger
                Article
                1471-2458-11-389
                10.1186/1471-2458-11-389
                3121637
                21612640
                Copyright ©2011 Page et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

                This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

                Categories
                Research Article

                Public health

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