Understanding where parents take sick children for care is key to improving equitable, high-quality treatment and catalyzing reductions in child morbidity and mortality. The authors analyzed the most recent Demographic and Health Survey data in 24 of USAID’s maternal and child health priority countries to examine levels and sources of care for children sick with three illnesses: symptoms of acute respiratory infection, diarrhea, and/or fever.
Two-thirds of caregivers sought out-of-home care for their sick children: 51 percent from the public sector and 43 percent from private sector sources. However, there are substantial disparities in terms of who sought care: 74 percent of caregivers from the wealthiest households sought out-of-home care while 63 percent of caregivers from the poorest households sought the same. The implication is that stewards of the public and private sectors—including governments, nongovernmental organizations, civil society, donors, and implementing partners—must collaborate to improve access to and quality of affordable care.