Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/1475-9276-11-7) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
The authors declare that they have no competing interests.
GF participated in data collection, contributed to the analysis, and wrote the first draft of the manuscript. SD helped coordinate data collection, performed the statistical analysis, and contributed to the manuscript. GM assisted in the study design and helped revise the manuscript. LF contributed to analysis and helped revise the manscript. MK concieved of the study, oversaw data collection, and contributed to the manscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.
To explore the equity of utilization of inpatient health care at rural Tanzanian health centers through the use of a short wealth questionnaire.
Patients admitted to four rural health centers in the Kigoma Region of Tanzania from May 2008 to May 2009 were surveyed about their illness, asset ownership and demographics. Principal component analysis was used to compare the wealth of the inpatients to the wealth of the region's general population, using data from a previous population-based survey.
Among inpatients, 15.3% were characterized as the most poor, 19.6% were characterized as very poor, 16.5% were characterized as poor, 18.9% were characterized as less poor, and 29.7% were characterized as the least poor. The wealth distribution of all inpatients (p < 0.0001), obstetric inpatients (p < 0.0001), other inpatients (p < 0.0001), and fee-exempt inpatients (p < 0.001) were significantly different than the wealth distribution in the community population, with poorer patients underrepresented among inpatients. The wealth distribution of pediatric inpatients (p = 0.2242) did not significantly differ from the population at large.
The findings indicated that while current Tanzanian health financing policies may have improved access to health care for children under five, additional policies are needed to further close the equity gap, especially for obstetric inpatients.