Public and private sector treatment of malaria in Lao PDR

Acta Trop. 2009 Dec;112(3):283-7. doi: 10.1016/j.actatropica.2009.08.013. Epub 2009 Aug 14.


This study aimed to examine the care-seeking choices for treatment of a febrile illness compatible with malaria in the public and private sectors in Lao PDR. We conducted interviews with 745 heads of household in 14 villages in the Sekong province, using a structured-questionnaire. We asked each about who the care-providers were for febrile illness episodes affecting their household members during the past year. If patients used more than one care-provider for a single episode over a period of time, we identified patterns of the care-sequences for the initial and subsequent care choices. Then, we analyzed the relationship between the initial care choices and secondary care choices for care-providers by Chi-square test, categorizing care-providers into public (hospital, health centre, and village health volunteer) and private care-providers (private pharmacy, informal retailer, faith healing and herbs). As a result, we found that 624 patients sought care at least once, 255 (40.9%) twice, and 66 (10.6%) three times or more during a single episode. Of 138 patients who started with a public care-provider and then sought a secondary care, 71 (51.4%) switched to a private care-provider. In contrast, of 117 patients who started with a private care-provider and then sought a secondary care, 82 (70.1%) switched to a public care-provider (p<0.001). In conclusion, although most patients who failed being treated by a private care-provider switched to a public one, some exclusively relied on care within the private sector. An intervention is necessary to make the private sector an integral component of malaria treatment in Lao PDR.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Animals
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Health Services / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Laos
  • Malaria / drug therapy*
  • Male
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care / statistics & numerical data*
  • Private Sector / statistics & numerical data*
  • Public Sector / statistics & numerical data*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult