|dc.description.abstract||This study sought to explore the self reported health problems of street children in Kumasi, Ghana. Focus is given to how these health problems were addressed through the children’s own efforts and contribution of relevant social structures. The study is premised on different theories and concepts including structuration theory, concepts of place, risk, social capital, resilience and access. The study employed qualitative methodology using mainly in-depth interviews complemented by one focus group discussion, observation and photography. A total of 15 primary participants aged 13 to 17 years and 11 key informants from various health and welfare institutions participated in the study.
The health risks of the children emanated from their jobs, sleeping places, their diet and some behaviour and choices they made. Their commonest health problems therefore consisted mainly of infectious diseases including malaria/fever, common cold, cough, skin diseases, and injuries and sprains but excluding any sexually transmitted disease. Many of the children depended on the support, knowledge, materials and methods from their peers and adult friends on the streets to treat their illness by themselves. Based on factors such as religious beliefs, rationality in resource management, length of stay on the street and pro-social attitude, some of them showed resilience in the face of their adversities. Local pharmacies were often their first point of call for treatment of their illness. Despite their availability and physical accessibility, hospitals and clinics were rarely used except in acute situations. This was largely due to financial constrains, unaccommodating services and inadequate knowledge on the part of the children on operations of these health services and opportunities to aid their access to health care. Children that used higher order services however often preferred public institutions largely due to perceived affordability of services rendered. Modern medical practice and drugs were the most used by the children although traditional medicine were readily available to the them. Although some public and private institutions and individuals provided assistance in the form of financial aid, health care and health educational programmes, many of the children exhibited less knowledge about these services and even on the existence of some of the institutions themselves. Moreover, some socio-cultural norms, beliefs, and practices also influenced both positively and negatively on the health and health care of the children.
The study therefore posits that, more in terms of expansion of available programmes, improving dissemination of relevant health and heath care information, building the capacity of relevant institutions, and incorporating the health and health care concerns of street children into mainstream health services need to be done in order to improve their health.||nb_NO