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Gender, socioeconomic development and health-seeking behaviour in Bangladesh


  • Ahmed, Syed Masud
  • Adams, Alayne M.
  • Chowdhury, Mushtaque
  • Bhuiya, Abbas


In efforts to reduce gender and socioeconomic disparities in the health of populations, the provision of medical services alone is clearly inadequate. While socioeconomic development is assumed important in rectifying gender and socioeconomic inequities in health care access, service use and ultimately, outcomes, empirical evidence of its impact is limited. Using cross-sectional data from the BRAC-ICDDR,B Joint Research Project in Matlab, Bangladesh, this paper examines the impact of membership in BRAC's integrated Rural Development Programme (RDP) on gender equity and health-seeking behaviour. Differences in health care seeking are explored by comparing a sample of households who are BRAC members with a sample of BRAC-eligible non-members. Individuals from the BRAC member group report significantly less morbidity (15-day recall) than those from the non-member group, although no gender differences in the prevalence of self-reported morbidity are apparent in either group. Sick individuals from BRAC member households tend to seek care less frequently than non-members. When treatment is sought, BRAC members rely to a greater extent on home remedies, traditional care, and unqualified allopaths than non-member households. While reported treatment seeking from qualified allopaths is more prevalent in the BRAC group, non-members use the para-professional services of community health care workers almost twice as frequently. In both BRAC member and non-member groups, women suffering illness report seeking care significantly less often than men. The policy and programmatic implications of between group and gender differences in care seeking are discussed with reference to the literature.

Suggested Citation

  • Ahmed, Syed Masud & Adams, Alayne M. & Chowdhury, Mushtaque & Bhuiya, Abbas, 2000. "Gender, socioeconomic development and health-seeking behaviour in Bangladesh," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 51(3), pages 361-371, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:51:y:2000:i:3:p:361-371

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Wagstaff, Adam, 1991. "QALYs and the equity-efficiency trade-off," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 10(1), pages 21-41, May.
    2. Gerdtham, U. -G. & Johannesson, M. & Lundberg, L. & Isacson, D., 1999. "A note on validating Wagstaff and van Doorslaer's health measure in the analysis of inequalities in health," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 18(1), pages 117-124, January.
    3. Newbold, K. Bruce & Eyles, John & Birch, Stephen, 1995. "Equity in health care: Methodological contributions to the analysis of hospital utilization within Canada," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 40(9), pages 1181-1192, May.
    4. Wagstaff, Adam & van Doorslaer, Eddy & Paci, Pierella, 1991. "On the measurement of horizontal inequity in the delivery of health care," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 10(2), pages 169-205, July.
    5. Culyer, A. J. & Wagstaff, Adam, 1993. "Equity and equality in health and health care," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 12(4), pages 431-457, December.
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    Cited by:

    1. Dhaoui, Elwardi, 2015. "The role of Islamic Microfinance in Poverty Alleviation: Lessons from Bangladesh Experience," MPRA Paper 63665, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    2. Nahar, Papreen, 2010. "Health seeking behaviour of childless women in Bangladesh: An ethnographic exploration for the special issue on: Loss in child bearing," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 71(10), pages 1780-1787, November.
    3. Ahmed, Syed Masud & Petzold, Max & Kabir, Zarina Nahar & Tomson, Göran, 2006. "Targeted intervention for the ultra poor in rural Bangladesh: Does it make any difference in their health-seeking behaviour?," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 63(11), pages 2899-2911, December.
    4. Pouliot, Mariève, 2011. "Relying on nature’s pharmacy in rural Burkina Faso: Empirical evidence of the determinants of traditional medicine consumption," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 73(10), pages 1498-1507.
    5. Syed M. Ahsan & Syed Abdul Hamid & Shubhasish Barua, 2012. "Utilisation of Formal Health Care and Out-of-Pocket Payments in Rural Bangladesh," Working Papers 13, Institute of Microfinance (InM).
    6. Anne Case & Alicia Menendez & Cally Ardington, 2005. "Health Seeking Behavior in Northern KwaZulu-Natal," SALDRU/CSSR Working Papers 116, Southern Africa Labour and Development Research Unit, University of Cape Town.
    7. Bhan, Gautam & Bhandari, Nita & Taneja, Sunita & Mazumder, Sarmila & Bahl, Rajiv, 2005. "The effect of maternal education on gender bias in care-seeking for common childhood illnesses," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 60(4), pages 715-724, February.
    8. Haenssgen, Marco J. & Ariana, Proochista, 2017. "The Social Implications of Technology Diffusion: Uncovering the Unintended Consequences of People’s Health-Related Mobile Phone Use in Rural India and China," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 94(C), pages 286-304.
    9. M. Mizanur Rahman & Fariduddin Ahmad, 2010. "Impact of microfinance of IBBL on the rural poor's livelihood in Bangladesh: an empirical study," International Journal of Islamic and Middle Eastern Finance and Management, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 3(2), pages 168-190, June.
    10. repec:eeb:articl:v:3:y:2017:n:1:p:67-86 is not listed on IDEAS


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