Poverty status and health equity: evidence from rural Bangladesh

Public Health. 2006 Mar;120(3):193-205. doi: 10.1016/j.puhe.2005.08.016. Epub 2006 Jan 24.


Many studies have examined the health inequities between different social groups, often measured by individual independent variables, such as education, gender, ethnicity, geography, rich, poor, etc. Although inequities are increasingly widening, a few studies have looked at the health inequity between different poverty groups within the poor. The present study, using equity terms, examined the use of health services in two rural areas of Bangladesh. Using a multistage sampling method, a total of 80 villages were selected from the Bogra and Dinajpur sadar thanas (subdistricts) for the study. A total of 4003 households in these villages were visited for data collection on mortality and fertility, while data related to use of health services was collected from a subsample of 1032 households. A poverty index, constructed using three variables (household landholding, education level of head of household, and self-rated categorization of household's annual food security), categorized the households into three groups: extreme poor, moderate poor and non-poor. Overall, the data revealed considerable inequities in many study indicators between the poor and the non-poor. However, inequities of varying degrees were also found between the extreme poor and the moderate poor. Lower levels of inequities were found between the poor and the non-poor in the use of health services, which were easily accessible and free of charge (immunization, vitamin A capsule, etc.). On the whole, the extreme poor were less likely to use health services than the moderate poor and the non-poor, suggesting the need for a more appropriate programme to address their pressing health needs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Bangladesh
  • Female
  • Health Care Surveys
  • Health Services Accessibility / economics*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Poverty*
  • Rural Health Services / statistics & numerical data*
  • Rural Health Services / supply & distribution
  • Social Class
  • Socioeconomic Factors*