Accessibility of diagnostic and treatment centres for visceral leishmaniasis in Gedaref State, northern Sudan.
AffiliationMédecins Sans Frontières Holland, Amsterdam, The Netherlands. email@example.com
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AbstractOBJECTIVE: To evaluate the accessibility of visceral leishmaniasis (VL) treatment. METHOD: Community-based study using in-depth qualitative interviews and focus group discussions with key informants, as well as quantitative questionnaires with 448 randomly selected heads of households in nine representative villages in three geographical sub-regions. RESULTS: Despite the high incidence of the disease, most people in Gedaref State know little about VL, and help at a treatment centre is usually sought only after traditional remedies and basic allopathic drugs have failed. Factors barring access to treatment are: lack of money for treatment and transport, impassability of roads, work priorities, severe cultural restrictions of women's decision-making power and distance to the next health center. CONCLUSIONS: To provide more VL patients with access to treatment in this highly endemic area, diagnostic and treatment services should be decentralized. Health education would be a useful tool to rationalise people's health-seeking behaviour.