JOURNAL ARTICLE

Public and private sector treatment of malaria in Lao PDR

Daisuke Nonaka, Kongshin Vongseththa, Jun Kobayashi, Somboun Bounyadeth, Shigeyuki Kano, Samlane Phompida, Masamine Jimba
Acta Tropica 2009, 112 (3): 283-7
19683502
This study aimed to examine the care-seeking choices for treatment of a febrile illness compatible with malaria in the public and private sectors in Lao PDR. We conducted interviews with 745 heads of household in 14 villages in the Sekong province, using a structured-questionnaire. We asked each about who the care-providers were for febrile illness episodes affecting their household members during the past year. If patients used more than one care-provider for a single episode over a period of time, we identified patterns of the care-sequences for the initial and subsequent care choices. Then, we analyzed the relationship between the initial care choices and secondary care choices for care-providers by Chi-square test, categorizing care-providers into public (hospital, health centre, and village health volunteer) and private care-providers (private pharmacy, informal retailer, faith healing and herbs). As a result, we found that 624 patients sought care at least once, 255 (40.9%) twice, and 66 (10.6%) three times or more during a single episode. Of 138 patients who started with a public care-provider and then sought a secondary care, 71 (51.4%) switched to a private care-provider. In contrast, of 117 patients who started with a private care-provider and then sought a secondary care, 82 (70.1%) switched to a public care-provider (p<0.001). In conclusion, although most patients who failed being treated by a private care-provider switched to a public one, some exclusively relied on care within the private sector. An intervention is necessary to make the private sector an integral component of malaria treatment in Lao PDR.

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