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GENDER-RELATED FACTORS INFLUENCING WOMEN'S HEALTH SEEKING FOR TUBERCULOSIS CARE IN EBONYI STATE, NIGERIA

  • DANIEL C. OSHI (a1), SARAH N. OSHI (a1), ISAAC N. ALOBU (a2) and KINGSLEY N. UKWAJA (a3)

Summary

This is a qualitative, descriptive study to explore gender-related factors that influence health seeking for tuberculosis (TB) care by women in Ebonyi State, Nigeria. In-depth interviews based on interview guides were conducted with participants selected through purposive sampling in communities in the state. The results show that gender relations prohibit women from seeking care for symptoms of TB and other diseases outside their community without their husbands' approval. Gender norms on intra-household resource ownership and control divest women of the power to allocate money for health care seeking. Yet, the same norms place the burden of spending on health care for minor illnesses on women, and such repeated, out-of-pocket expenditures on health care at the village level make it difficult for women to save money for use for health care seeking for major illnesses such as TB, which, even if subsidized, still involves hidden costs such as transport fare. The opening hours of TB clinics do not favour their use by most women as they are open when women are usually engaged in income-generating activities. Attending the clinics may therefore entail opportunity costs for many women. People with chronic, infectious diseases such as TB and HIV are generally stigmatized and avoided. Women suffer more stigma and discrimination than men. Stigma and discrimination make women reluctant to seek care for TB until the disease is advanced. Policies and programmes aimed at increasing women's access to TB services should not only take these gender norms that disempower women into explicit consideration but also include interventions to address them. The programmes should integrate flexible opening hours for TB treatment units, including introduction of evening consultation for women. Interventions should also integrate anti-stigma strategies led by the community members themselves.

Copyright

Corresponding author

1 Corresponding author. Email: dannyoshi@yahoo.com

References

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