Health problems of children with disabilities with special reference to HIV/AIDS in Southern Ethiopia
Background: Disability is often addressed exclusively as a medical concern. The greatest problems facing persons with disabilities (PWDs) are social inequity, poverty, and lack of human rights protection. Among others, these are reflected in their health status.
Objective: To determine health problems encountered and associated factors; problems of access to health care and health information among Children with Disabilities (CWDs).
Method: The study used a cross-sectional survey design with both quantitative and qualitative methods. Data from CWDs was collected using a survey, focus group discussion (FGD) and observations; information about CWDs was also collected from key informants (KIs) using in-depth interviews. Survey data were analyzed using SPSS version 11.
Result: Eighty-seven percent of study participants experienced one or more health problems. Malaria-like illness and diarrheal diseases were reported as the main health problems. About 19% of them reported to have engaged in sexual intercourse, but none of them used HIV/AIDS preventive methods. Government health care facilities were the primary choice of health service for CWDs although most complained that the government health care facilities were not easily accessible because of economic problems, bureaucracies of the health institutions, negative attitude of health professionals and misconceptions of the society towards CWDs. More than half (52.0%) of them reported to have no health related information.
Conclusion: Majority of CWDs were not enjoying the health care provisions available in the study area because of the limited access to the government health care facilities. Their access to HIV/AIDS information is also limited. Sexually active CWDs practice unsafe sex, some are exposed to sexual and substance abuse; putting them at risk of HIV infection. The findings of this study calls for appropriate health promotion and disease prevention education for CWDs. The study also indicated that CWDs are a group that requires specific health attention within the context of people with disabilities. [Ethiop. J. Health Dev. 2013;27(2):94-103]