Health-seeking by caregivers of children with a disability in two communities in the Ashanti Region, Ghana
This case study comprises an exploratory qualitative study of health-seeking behaviour of caregivers of children with disabilities in Ghana. It reflects on the role that primary caregivers play in the first line of care, and the issues and concerns they face navigating the service system. Four individual cases of children with disabilities and a general description of the situation in two communities in the Ashanti Region are presented. The cases indicate that primary caregivers are the main actors in the health-seeking process because they can identify the child’s disability and consequently play an active role in seeking health care. In the cases considered here, primary caregivers comprises an aunt and uncle, two sets of parents, and a grandmother. In three out of for cases, caregivers were engaged in a time-consuming and costly search for treatment, using spiritual, herbal and biomedical health services. In none of the cases did they receive adequate diagnosis and treatment. Extended family members, community members and different practitioners play an active role in giving advice to primary caregivers about which type of services to access. School attendance, and education more generally, were seen as beneficial for children with a disability for stimulating development of skills and fostering social inclusion in the absence of rehabilitation facilities and special education. However, primary caregivers often encounter financial and attitudinal barriers when trying to access education. To help address some of the issues highlighted here, tentative recommendations for policymakers and professionals working in the field of child disability in low resource settings are provided.
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