oa South African Medical Journal - Healthcare utilisation patterns for respiratory and gastrointestinal syndromes and meningitis in Msunduzi municipality, Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu-Natal Province, South Africa, 2013 - research

Volume 109 Number 5
  • ISSN : 0256-9574
  • E-ISSN: 2078-5135



Background. Public health facilities are used by the majority of South Africans, and healthcare utilisation surveys have been a useful tool to estimate the burden of disease in a given area.
Objectives. To describe care-seeking behaviour in a periurban site with a high prevalence of HIV infection, as well as barriers to seeking appropriate healthcare.  
Methods. We conducted a cross-sectional household survey in 22 wards of the Msunduzi municipality in KwaZulu-Natal Province, South Africa, from October to December 2013 using a simple random sample of households selected from a 2011 census enumeration. A primary caregiver/adult decision-maker was interviewed regarding demographic data as well as health status and recent self-reported episodes of selected illnesses and healthcare utilisation.
Results. Of the 2 238 eligible premises visited, 1 936 households (87%) with a total of 9 733 members were enrolled in the study. Of these, 635 (7%) reported one or more episodes of infectious illness during the study period. Public health clinics were most frequently consulted for all illnesses (361/635, 57%). Private healthcare (general practitioner, private clinic, private hospital) was sought by 90/635 of individuals (14%), only 13/635 (2%) reported seeking care from traditional healers, religious leaders or volunteers, and 71/635 (11%) did not seek any medical care for acute illnesses. Individuals in the lowest income group were more likely to seek care at public health facilities than those in the highest income group (70% v. 32%).
Conclusions. Public health facility-based surveillance may be representative of disease patterns in this community, although surveillance at household level shows that high-income individuals may be excluded because they were more likely to use private healthcare, and the proportion of individuals who died at home would have been missed by facility-based surveillance. Data obtained in such surveys may be useful for public health planning.

Loading full text...

Full text loading...


Article metrics loading...


This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was a Success
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error