"He will ask why the child gets sick so often": the gendered dynamics of intra-household bargaining over healthcare for children with fever in the Volta Region of Ghana

Soc Sci Med. 2008 Mar;66(5):1106-17. doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2007.11.032. Epub 2007 Dec 31.


This paper explores the gendered dynamics of intra-household bargaining around treatment seeking for children with fever revealed through two qualitative research studies in the Volta Region of Ghana, and discusses the influence of different gender and health discourses on the likely policy implications drawn from such findings. Methods used included focus group discussions, in-depth and critical incidence interviews, and Participatory Learning and Action methods. We found that treatment seeking behaviour for children was influenced by norms of decision-making power and 'ownership' of children, access to and control over resources to pay for treatment, norms of responsibility for payment, marital status, household living arrangements, and the quality of relationships between mothers, fathers and elders. However, the implications of these findings may be interpreted from different perspectives. Most studies that have considered gender in relation to malaria have done so within a narrow biomedical approach to health that focuses only on the outcomes of gender relations in terms of the (non-)utilisation of allopathic healthcare. However, we argue that a 'gender transformatory' approach, which aims to promote women's empowerment, needs to include but go beyond this model, to consider broader potential outcomes of intra-household bargaining for women's and men's interests, including their livelihoods and 'bargaining positions'.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Attitude to Health
  • Child
  • Child Health Services*
  • Child Welfare
  • Child, Preschool
  • Decision Making*
  • Family Characteristics*
  • Female
  • Fever*
  • Focus Groups
  • Gender Identity*
  • Ghana
  • Health Behavior*
  • Health Status*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Malaria*
  • Male
  • Marital Status
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care
  • Qualitative Research
  • Sex Factors