Original articles

Primary care morbidity in Eastern Cape Province

Valerie Brueton, Parimalarani Yogeswaran, Jimmy Chandia, Khaya Mfenyana, Bernadette Modell, Michael Modell, Irwin Nazareth

Abstract


Background. Primary health care in rural South Africa is predominantly provided by remote clinics and health centres. In 1994, health centres were upgraded and new health centres developed to serve as a health care filter between community clinics and district hospitals.
Aim. To describe the spectrum of clinical problems encountered at a new health centre in an area of high economic deprivation and compare this with an adjacent community clinic and district hospital.
Design. Cross-sectional survey.
Setting. A rural clinic, health centre and district hospital in Eastern Cape Province, South Africa.
Methods. The International Classification of Primary Care-2 (ICPC-2) was used to code data collected over a 13-week period from patients presenting at a community clinic, health centre and district hospital.
Results. Altogether, 4 383 patient encounters were recorded across all three sites in 2001. Most contacts at the clinic (97%) and the health centre (80%) were with a nurse. Females over 15 years of age comprised over half of all contacts at health facilities (53%). The most common diagnosis category was respiratory (23%). Cough was the most common symptom. Thirty per cent of children up to 5 years of age were seen for immunisations. Most childhood immunisations (79%) were carried out at the health centre.
Conclusion. Of all the health care facilities surveyed, the health centre had the highest throughput of patients, indicating that the health centre is an efficient filter between the community and hospital. The ICPC-2 can be successfully used to monitor encounters at similar African health care facilities.

Authors' affiliations

Valerie Brueton, Medical Research Council, General Practice Research Framework, Stephenson House, 158-160 North Gower Street, London, NW1 2ND, UK.

Parimalarani Yogeswaran, Department of Family Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, Walter Sisulu University, Private Bag X1, Mthatha 5117, Eastern Cape, South Africa.

Jimmy Chandia, Department of Family Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, Walter Sisulu University, Private Bag X1, Mthatha 5117, Eastern Cape, South Africa.

Khaya Mfenyana, Department of Family Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, Walter Sisulu University, Private Bag X1, Mthatha 5117, Eastern Cape, South Africa.

Bernadette Modell, Research Department of Primary Care and Population Health, Royal Free and University College Medical School, Hampstead Campus, Rowland Hill Street, London NW3 2PF, UK.

Michael Modell, Research Department of Primary Care and Population Health, Royal Free and University College Medical School, Hampstead Campus, Rowland Hill Street, London NW3 2PF, UK.

Irwin Nazareth, Medical Research Council, General Practice Research Framework, Stephenson House, 158-160 North Gower Street, London, NW1 2ND, UK.

Full Text

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Keywords

Primary health care, ICPC-2, South Africa, Morbidity, Survey.

Cite this article

South African Medical Journal 2010;100(5):309-312.

Article History

Date submitted: 2009-04-09
Date published: 2010-05-04

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