Utilization of primary health care facilities: lessons from a rural community in southwest Nigeria

S S Sule, K T Ijadunola, A A Onayade, A O Fatusi, R O Soetan, F A Connell
Nigerian Journal of Medicine: Journal of the National Association of Resident Doctors of Nigeria 2008, 17 (1): 98-106

BACKGROUND: This study assessed service/organisational factors and clients' perceptions that influenced utilisation of Primary Health Care (PHC) facilities in a rural community in Nigeria.

METHOD: A cross-sectional household survey in the community as well as key-informant interviews of opinion leaders and health care providers and participant observations of health facilities and utilisation pattern was used to collect data.

RESULTS: Forty-four percent of respondents to the survey who were ill in the preceding six months visited a PHC facility for treatment, while others relied on self-medication/self-treatment. Education was positively associated with utilisation of PHC services (P<0.05). Maternal and child health (45.4%), prompt attention (23.0%), and appropriate outpatient (20.5%) services attracted respondents to use PHC services. Poor education about when to seek care, poverty, perceived high cost of PHC services, lack of drugs and basic laboratory services, and a regular physician on site at the facility were identified as barriers to utilisation.

CONCLUSION: We conclude that community perceptions of poor quality and inadequacy of available services was responsible for low use of PHC services.

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