Mothers' health services utilization and health care seeking behaviour during infant rearing: A longitudinal community based study, south west Ethiopia

  • Fasil Tessema
  • Makonnen Asefa
  • Fekadu Ayele


Background: data from different studies showed health care behaviour and estimated per capita health care expenditure for the general population, but the specific data for infants at different levels of care are lacking. The objectives of this study were to describe mothers' health service utilization during pregnancy and delivery, determine their health seeking behaviour and health care expenditures for infants during the first year of life.
Methods: The study was longitudinal community based study consisted of a cohort of 8273 live births, their mothers and families between September 1992 and October 1994 in rural and urban settings in Jimma, Illubabor and Kefecho Zones, Southwest Ethiopia. Mothers were interviewed for their health care utilization during pregnancy and delivery. Occurrences of any illness for infants and mothers health care utilization during pregnancy and delivery. Occurrence of any illness for infants and mothers health seeking behavior was collected with the bimonthly visit for a period of 12 months.
Results: Mothers' health seeking behaviour for ill babies at the various levels of care showed that 46.5, 42.7, 48.241.6 percent of diarrhea, cough, fever, and other illnesses, respectively, got treatment in health institutions. More than a quarter of ill-infants didn't get any kind of help be it at home, traditional or health institutions. The average health care expenditure in infancy was estimated to be 7.92 birr and it increased with increasing level of education and monthly family income. In all treatment groups about 43 to 58 percent of ill infants claimed to have been cured with highest cure proportion for diarrhea cases after the first treatment was given.
Conclusion: improved socioeconomic status of families and at least elementary schooling of mothers would change mothers' behaviour in seeking care for infants in health institution and increase the power of the family to spend some of their earnings for better care. Improving and providing at least primary health care services in rural areas needs considerations on the side of planners and health care provider. Key words: infants, health seeking behaviour, expenditure, level of care.

[Ethiop. J. Health Dev. 2002;16(Special Issue):51-58]

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