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Why are there delays in seeking treatment for childhood diarrhoea in India?
Acta Paediatrica (2013)
  • Nisha Malhotra, University of British Columbia

Abstract Aim To examine the barriers and facilitating factors for seeking treatment for childhood diarrhoea and to determine the main causes for delay in seeking treatment.

Methods Data from Indian Demographic and Health survey 2005–06 (NFHS-III) was used. Mothers were asked if their children (<5-years) had suffered from diarrhoea during the two weeks preceding the survey. Data were collected on the time of seeking treatment after start of the illness, and days waited to seek treatment after the diarrhoea started. Multivariate logistic regression analysis was performed to find the determinants of seeking treatment at the health facility and the factors responsible for the “delay” in seeking advice/treatment.

Results Out of a sample of 41,287 children, 3890 (9.4%) reportedly had diarrhoea. Sixty percent of children with diarrhoea were taken to a health facility. Mother's education till higher secondary and above (OR 1.65; 95% CI, 1.08 – 2.54), richest (OR 1.76; 95% CI, 1.24 – 2.48) wealth index, mother's lack of knowledge of oral rehydration salts (ORS) (OR .54, 95% CI, 0.44 – 0.66) and possession of a health card by the mother (OR 1.35; 95% CI, 1.12 – 1.62) increased the odds of seeking treatment. There was a strong gender bias; a male child had lower odds of experiencing a “delay” in seeking treatment, compared to a female child (OR 0.71; 95% CI, 0.55 – 0.92). Access to a health facility still remains a major issue: Treatment seeking was delayed when distance to a health facility was reported as a “major problem” (OR 1.33; 95% CI, 1.01 – 1.76).

Conclusion(s) Improved care seeking for childhood diarrhoea in India is still constrained by access to a health facility and requires expansion and strengthening of the public health system. The caregivers, especially the mothers need to be educated about the importance of seeking timely treatment and the benefits of oral rehydration solution.

  • Diarrhoea,
  • Seeking Treatment,
  • Delay,
  • India,
  • Gender Bias
Publication Date
May 31, 2013
Citation Information
Nisha Malhotra. "Why are there delays in seeking treatment for childhood diarrhoea in India?" Acta Paediatrica (2013)
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