Perceptions of health, health care and community-oriented health interventions in poor urban communities of Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo
Inocêncio da Luz, Raquel Andrea
Institute of Development Policy and Management
Faculty of Pharmaceutical, Biomedical and Veterinary Sciences. Pharmacy
Engineering sciences. Technology
, p. 1-8
University of Antwerp
In Democratic Republic of Congo access to health care is limited because of many geographical and financial barriers, while quality of care is often low. Global health donors assist the country with a number of community-oriented interventions such as free distribution of bednets, antihelminthic drugs, vitamin A supplementation and vaccination campaigns, but uptake of these interventions is not always optimal. The aim of this study was to explore the perceptions of poor urban communities of the capital Kinshasa with regard to health issues in general as well as their experiences and expectations concerning facility-based health services and community-oriented health interventions. Applying an approach rooted in the grounded theory framework, focus group discussions were conducted in eight neighborhoods of poor urban areas in the city of Kinshasa in July 2011. Study participants were easily able to evoke the city's major health problems, with the notable exceptions of malnutrition and HIV/AIDS. They perceive the high out-of-pocket cost of health services as the major obstacle when seeking access to quality care. Knowledge of ongoing community-oriented health interventions seems good. Still, while the study participants agree that those interventions are beneficial; their acceptability seems to be problematic. This is chiefly put down to a lack of information and government communication about the programs and their interventions. Furthermore, the study participants referred to rumors and the deterring effect of stories about alleged harmful consequences of those interventions. Along with improving the provision and quality of general health care, the government and international actors must improve their efforts in informing the communities about disease control programs, their rationale and benefit/risk ratio. Directly engaging community members in a dialogue might be beneficial in terms of improving acceptability and overall access to health services and interventions. Novel ways of reducing the high out-of-pocket expenditure should also be explored.