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BACKGROUND: Care seeking was assessed in preparation for a study of the health impact of novel design houses in rural Mtwara, Tanzania. METHODS: A total of 578 residents of 60 villages participated in this mixed-methods study from April to August 2020. Among them, 550 participated in a healthcare-seeking survey, 17 in in-depth interviews and 28 in key informant interviews. RESULTS: The decision to seek care was based on symptom severity (95.4% [370]). Caregivers first visited non-allopathic healthcare providers or were treated at home, which led to delays in seeking care at healthcare facilities. More than one-third (36.0% [140]) of respondents took >12 h seeking care at healthcare facilities. The majority (73.0% [282]) visited healthcare facilities, whereas around one-fifth (21.0% [80]) sought care at drug stores. Treatment costs deterred respondents from visiting healthcare facilities (61.4% [338]). Only 10 (3.6%) of the households surveyed reported that they were covered by health insurance. CONCLUSIONS: Quality of care, related to institutional factors, impacts timely care seeking for childhood illnesses in Mtwara, Tanzania. Ensuring accessibility of facilities is therefore not sufficient.

Original publication




Journal article


Trans R Soc Trop Med Hyg

Publication Date



child health, diarrhoea, health services, health services needs and demand, malaria, respiratory tract infections