Objectives To explore whether implementation of free high-quality care as part of research programmes resulted in greater health facility attendance by sick children. Methods As part of the Intermittent Preventive Treatment for Malaria in Infants (IPTi), begun in 2004, and population-based infectious disease surveillance (PBIDS), begun in 2005 in Asembo, rural western Kenya, free high-quality care was offered to infants and persons of all ages, respectively, at one Asembo facility, Lwak Hospital. We compared rates of sick-child visits by children <10years to all seven Asembo clinics before and after implementation of free high-quality care in 10 intervention villages closest to Lwak Hospital and 8 nearby comparison villages not participating in the studies. Incidence rates and rate ratios for sick-child visits were compared between intervention and comparison villages by time period using Poisson regression. Results After IPTi began, the rate of sick-child visits for infants, the study's target group, in intervention villages increased by 191% (95% CI 75-384) more than in comparison villages, but did not increase significantly more in older children. After PBIDS began, the rate of sick-child visits in intervention villages increased by 267% (95% CI 76-661) more than that in comparison villages for all children <10years. The greatest increases in visit rates in intervention villages occurred 3-6months after the intervention started. Visits for cough showed greater increases than visits for fever or diarrhoea. Conclusions Implementation of free high-quality care increased healthcare use by sick children. Cost and quality of care are potentially modifiable barriers to improving access to care in rural Africa.
- Health systems
- Health utilization
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
- Infectious Diseases