Self-reported serious illnesses in rural Cambodia: a cross-sectional survey

Type Journal Article - PLoS One
Title Self-reported serious illnesses in rural Cambodia: a cross-sectional survey
Volume 5
Issue 6
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2010
There is substantial evidence that ill-health is a major cause of impoverishment in developing countries. Major illnesses can have a serious economic impact on poor households through treatment costs and income loss. However, available methods for measuring the impact of ill-health on household welfare display several shortcomings and new methods are thus needed. To understand the potential complex impact of major illnesses on household livelihoods, a study on poverty and illness was conducted in rural Cambodia, as part of an international comparative research project. A cross-sectional survey was performed to identify households affected by major illness for further in-depth interviews.

Methodology and Principal Findings

5,975 households in three rural health districts were randomly selected through a two-stage cluster sampling and interviewed. 27% of the households reported at least one member with a serious illness in the year preceding the survey and 15% of the household members reported suffering from at least one serious illness. The most reported conditions include common tropical infectious diseases, chronic diseases (notably hypertension and heart diseases) and road traffic accidents. Such conditions were particularly concentrated among the poor, children under five, women, and the elderly. Poor women often reported complications related to pregnancy and delivery as serious illnesses.

Conclusions and Significance

Despite some methodological limitations, this study provides new information on the frequency of self-reported serious illnesses among the rural Cambodia's population, which serves as a basis for further in-depth investigation on ‘major illnesses’ and their economic consequences on poor households. This can in turn help policy makers to formulate appropriate interventions to protect the poor from the financial burden associated with ill-health. Our findings suggest that every year a considerable proportion of rural population in Cambodia, especially the poor and vulnerable, are affected by serious illnesses, both communicable and non-communicable diseases.

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