Journal Article

User fee exemption does not affect lower rates of hospital admission of girls in Vietnam

Wolf-Peter Schmidt, Motoi Suzuki, Vu Dinh Thiem, Lay-Myint Yoshida, Toru Matsubayashi, Hideki Yanai, Le Huu Tho, Dang Duc Anh and Koya Ariyoshi

in Health Policy and Planning

Published on behalf of The London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine

Volume 27, issue 7, pages 582-589
Published in print October 2012 | ISSN: 0268-1080
Published online December 2011 | e-ISSN: 1460-2237 | DOI:
User fee exemption does not affect lower rates of hospital admission of girls in Vietnam

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In many countries, girls have been reported to be less often admitted to hospital than boys. We studied the influence of socio-economic factors, education and access to health care on girls’ and boys’ admission rates for pneumonia, diarrhoea and dengue fever in south-central Vietnam. We explored whether the user fee exemption for children under 6 years introduced in 2005 had an impact on girls’ admission rates.

In a cohort analysis, we used data from a large census in Khanh Hoa Province conducted in 2006, linked to hospital admission records at individual level. We further analysed a cross-sectional health care utilization survey in a sample of children reported ill at the census. There were 38 731 children under 6 years among a total census population of 353 891. Overall, girls under the age of 6 years were 29% less likely to be admitted to hospital than boys. The gender differences in admission rates in children under 6 years were similar for diarrhoea, pneumonia and dengue. None of the socio-economic and educational factors appeared to affect the gender difference. The user fee exemption starting from October 2005 had no impact on the girls/boys rate ratio of admission. In conclusion, the higher hospital admission rates of boys compared with girls in Vietnam are independent of socio-economic factors and user fees. Higher susceptibility of boys to severe disease could explain part of the gender gap, but profound cultural norms and beliefs may also have contributed to the findings.

Keywords: Gender; willingness to pay; dengue; girls’ health

Journal Article.  4166 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Public Health and Epidemiology

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