This paper analyses the effect of wealth status on care-seeking patterns and health expenditures in Afghanistan, based on a national household survey conducted within public health facility catchment areas.
We found high rates of reported care-seeking, with more than 90% of those ill seeking care. Sick individuals from all wealth quintiles had high rates of care-seeking, although those in the wealthiest quintile were more likely to seek care than those from the poorest (odds ratio 2.2; 95% CI 1.6, 3.0). The nearest clinic providing the government's Basic Package of Health Services (BPHS) was the most commonly sought first provider (53% overall), especially for relatively poor households (62% in poorest vs. 42% in least poor quintile, P
These findings indicate that BPHS facilities are being used by the poor who live close to them, but further research is needed to assess utilization among populations in more remote areas. The high out-of-pocket health expenditures, particularly for private sector services, highlight the need to develop financial protection mechanisms in Afghanistan.
Health Policy and Planning (2009) 24 (1) 1-17 [doi: 10.1093/heapol/czn043]