This study examined the association of a number of social and economic and other factors with perceived morbidity and use of health services by children in rural Bangladesh, using the data of a health and socioeconomic survey conducted in Matlab, Bangladesh in 1996. One of the factors of interest was women’s social position measured with indicators such as their education, domestic autonomy, social networks and social prestige. Other factors of interest were economic in nature and included the availability of high-quality primary health care (PHC) facilities in one part of the study area. A total of 52% of the 3,793 children below 15 had an episode of an acute illness in the month preceding the interview. The medical care sought for acute illnesses was grouped into four categories: medical doctors, paramedics, traditional and untrained village doctors (including drug sellers) and
homeopaths. A total of 55% of the children who were sick in the past month consulted any type of health provider. Logistic regression was used to estimate the effects of the
various independent variables on the two dependent variables: perceived morbidity of under-15 children and health service use for under-15 sick children. The results revealed that age of the child was the most important factor influencing perceived morbidity while social and economic variables were in general not related to perceived morbidity.Prolonged and severe illnesses and illnesses of young and male children were more likely to be treated by
health providers, particularly by physicians. While women’s education and social network influenced visits to any health providers socioeconomic indicators influenced visits to physicians. Availability of PHC facilities in one part of the study area also led to more use of modern medical care. The findings highlight that improvement of women’s education and of social and economic status in general, in combination with more availability of highquality PHC will in Bangladesh lead to better health care of children.
Keywords: Bangladesh; children; perceived morbidity; episodes of acute illness; health seeking behaviour; maternal education; domestic autonomy; social network; prestige