Informal care for illness in rural southwest Uganda: the central role that women play

L. Taylor, J. Seeley, E. Kajura

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In rural Uganda care for those who are ill tends to be home based because of inadequate and expensive health care facilities, lack of medication and poor staffing levels in health units. Research findings suggest that women are responsible for the bulk of caring activities. This paper questions the assumption that female informal carers are in a position to cope with illness episodes in the home. Data were collected from 54 female informants in a rural population in southwest Uganda. Supplementary data from in-depth interviews with survey participants and counsellors were also collected. Findings suggest that women are the main providers of informal care within the home. Many women, particularly in female-headed households, did not own or have direct access to the necessary finances to meet the family's health care needs as expected of them. Although relatives and friends were seen as a valuable resource, because of poor household proximity and financial constraints they were not always in a position to offer or provide assistance. The women also identified themselves as responsible for a variety of home and agricultural tasks; such activities were frequently disrupted by illness episodes. As women take on the additional burden of care for those with HIV/AIDS an inevitable conclusion is that their resources, both social and economic, will not be adequate. These data indicate the need for additional research and stress the importance of appropriate support and relief programs for those responsible for informal care.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)49-56
Number of pages8
JournalHealth Transition Review
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 1996

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