Health Care Utilization and Attitude Surveys Associated with the Global Enteric Multicenter Study (GEMS)
  • ISSN: 0002-9637
  • E-ISSN: 1476-1645



Diarrheal disease causes ∼1.34 million deaths per year among children under 5 years of age globally. We conducted a Health Care Utilization and Attitudes Survey of 1,012 primary caregivers of children aged 0–11, 12–23, and 24–59 months randomly selected from a Demographic Surveillance population in rural Gambia. Point prevalence of diarrhea was 7.7% (95% confidence interval [CI] = 6.1–9.8); 23.3% had diarrhea within the previous 2 weeks. Caregivers of 81.5% of children with diarrhea sought healthcare outside their home, but only 48.4% of them visited a health center. Only 17.0% (95% CI = 12.1–23.2) of children with diarrhea received oral rehydration solution (ORS) at home. Abbreviated surveys conducted on six occasions over the subsequent 2 years showed no change in prevalence or treatment-seeking behavior. Diarrhea remains a significant problem in rural young Gambian children. Encouraging care-seeking behavior at health centers and promoting ORS use can reduce mortality and morbidity in this population.

[open-access] This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene's Re-use License which permits unrestricted non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


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  • Received : 13 Dec 2012
  • Accepted : 19 Mar 2013
  • Published online : 10 Jul 2013

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