Monday, April 27, 2009

[EQ] Access to health care in relation to socioeconomic status in the Amazonian area of Peru

Access to health care in relation to socioeconomic status in the Amazonian area of Peru


Charlotte Kristiansson1§, Eduardo Gotuzzo2, Hugo Rodriguez3, Alessandro Bartoloni4, Marianne Strohmeyer4, Göran Tomson1 and Per Hartvig5

1IHCAR (Div. International Health), Karolinska Institutet, Sweden

2Inst. Med. Trop. A. von Humboldt, Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia, Peru

3Health Directorate of Loreto, Peru

4UFDID, University of Florence, Italy

5Uppsala University, Sweden

International Journal for Equity in Health – April 2009


Available online at:


Access to affordable health care is limited in many low and middle income countries and health systems are often inequitable, providing less health services to the poor who need it most. The aim of this study was to investigate health seeking behavior and utilization of drugs in relation to household socioeconomic status for children in two small Amazonian urban communities of Peru; Yurimaguas, Department of Loreto and Moyobamba, Department of San Martin, Peru.


Cross-sectional study design included household interviews. Caregivers of 780 children aged 6-72 months in Yurimaguas and 793 children of the same age in Moyobamba were included in the study. Caregivers were interviewed on health care seeking strategies (public/private sectors; formal/informal providers), and medication for their children in relation to reported symptoms and socio-economic status. Self reported symptoms were classified into illnesses based on the IMCI algorithm (Integrated Management of Childhood Ilness). Wealth was used as a proxy indicator for the economic status. Wealth values were generated by Principal Component Analysis using household assets and characteristics.


Significantly more caregivers from the least poor stratum consulted health professionals for cough/cold (p<0.05: OR=4.30) than the poorest stratum. The poorest stratum used fewer antibiotics for cough/cold and for cough/cold + diarrhoea (16%, 38%, respectively) than the least poor stratum (31%, 52%, respectively). For pneumonia and/or dysentery, the poorest used significantly fewer antibiotics (16%) than the least poor (80%).




The poorest seek less care from health professionals for non-severe illnesses as well as for severe illnesses; and treatment with antibiotics is lacking for illnesses where it would be indicated. Caregivers frequently paid for health services as well as antibiotics, even though all children in the study qualified for free health care and medicines. The implementation of the Seguro Integral de Salud health insurance must be improved.



 *      *     *

This message from the Pan American Health Organization, PAHO/WHO, is part of an effort to disseminate
information Related to: Equity; Health inequality; Socioeconomic inequality in health; Socioeconomic
health differentials; Gender; Violence; Poverty; Health Economics; Health Legislation; Ethnicity; Ethics;
Information Technology - Virtual libraries; Research & Science issues.  [DD/ KMS Area]

“Materials provided in this electronic list are provided "as is". Unless expressly stated otherwise, the findings
and interpretations included in the Materials are those of the authors and not necessarily of The Pan American
Health Organization PAHO/WHO or its country members”.

PAHO/WHO Website
Equity List - Archives - Join/remove


    IMPORTANT: This transmission is for use by the intended recipient and it may contain privileged, proprietary or confidential information. If you are not the intended recipient or a person responsible for delivering this transmission to the intended recipient, you may not disclose, copy or distribute this transmission or take any action in reliance on it. If you received this transmission in error, please notify us immediately by email to, and please dispose of and delete this transmission. Thank you.