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Out of the reach of children? Young people’s health-seeking practices and agency in Africa’s newly-emerging therapeutic landscapes.

Hampshire, Kate and Porter, Gina and Owusu, Samuel Asiedu and Tanle, Augustine and Abane, Albert (2011) 'Out of the reach of children? Young people’s health-seeking practices and agency in Africa’s newly-emerging therapeutic landscapes.', Social science & medicine., 73 (5). pp. 702-710.


Despite a dominant view within Western biomedicine that children and medicines should be kept apart, a growing literature suggests that children and adolescents often take active roles in health-seeking. Here, we consider young people’s health-seeking practices in Ghana: a country with a rapidly-changing therapeutic landscape, characterised by the recent introduction of a National Health Insurance Scheme, mass advertising of medicines, and increased use of mobile phones. Qualitative and quantitative data are presented from eight field-sites in urban and rural Ghana, including 131 individual interviews, focus groups, plus a questionnaire survey of 1005 8-to-18-year-olds. The data show that many young people in Ghana play a major role in seeking healthcare for themselves and others. Young people’s ability to secure effective healthcare is often constrained by their limited access to social, economic and cultural resources and information; however, many interviewees actively generated, developed and consolidated such resources in their quest for healthcare. Health insurance and the growth of telecommunications and advertising present new opportunities and challenges for young people’s health-seeking practices. We argue that policy should take young people’s medical realities as a starting point for interventions to facilitate safe and effective health-seeking.

Item Type:Article
Keywords:Ghana, Health-seeking behaviour, Adolescents, Social capital, Mobile phones, Medicine advertising, Mutual health insurance schemes, Youth-friendly health services.
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Publisher statement:NOTICE: this is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Social science & medicine. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Social science & medicine, 73/5, 2011, 10.1016/j.socscimed.2011.06.035
Date accepted:No date available
Date deposited:07 January 2015
Date of first online publication:September 2011
Date first made open access:No date available

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