Practices of Primary Caretaker of children aged 1-5 years before attending Peri-Urban and Urban clinics in Thaba Nchu

  • SIN Yiga
  • G Joubert
  • LA Hiemstra


Background: The basic philosophy of Primary Health Care (PHC) is self-reliance and community participation. In South Africa PHC is free, and there is a perception that the service is misused. Before embarking on health promotion and health education campaigns to foster self-reliance, it is necessary to determine the current self-care practices of community members.

Methods: This descriptive study was conducted among caretakers of sick or injured children aged between 1 and 5 years, attending peri-urban and urban clinics in Thaba Nchu, Free State Province, South Africa. Clinics were grouped according to their service hours, and a random sample of clinics was chosen. For these clinics a random sample of days were selected. On these days one researcher (SINY) interviewed caretakers using a structured questionnaire. Nursing staff at the clinics served as translators where necessary.

Results: Of the 151 respondents, the majority was female (90.1%) and the child's mother (74.2%). Approximately half (51%) had completed standard 8 or higher. The majority (79.5%) had sought advice from a relative or neighbour for the illness in question. In 80.8%, the respondents were advised to go to the clinic. The median duration of illness before taking the child to the clinic was 3 days. Cough was the major presenting complaint in 66.9% of the children. At the clinic the majority of the children (78.8%) received treatment with no follow-up.

Conclusion: In most cases advice was sought before going to the clinic. There are ample opportunities for patient education, which should be extended to include other family members. Self-care needs to be encouraged and facilitated.

SA Fam Prac Vol.25(1) 2002: 9-13

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eISSN: 2078-6204
print ISSN: 2078-6190