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Good Health Status of Rural Women in the Reproductive Ages

Background: Women are traditionally over represented among the poor and therefore in the long run, have less access to remuneration and health resources, including health insurance and social security services. Women are disadvantaged on some fundamental economic indicators such as unemployment and access to economic resources. In 2007 in Jamaica, for instance among the 124 500 unemployed persons in the labour force, 65.4 % were women (Planning Institute of Jamaica, 2008). Thus, women's health and the control that they can exercise over resources are key factors in achieving effectiveness, efficiency, and sustainability in health interventions.

Aims and Objectives: This study examined the good health status of rural women in the reproductive ages of 15 to 49 years. Having extensively reviewed the literature, this paper is the first study of its kind in Jamaica and will provide pertinent information on this cohort for the purpose of public health planning. Method/Study Design: The current research extracted a sample of 3 450 respondents who indicated that they were rural women ages 15 to 49 years. This sample was taken from a national cross-sectional survey from the 14 parishes in Jamaica. The survey used a stratified random probability sampling technique to draw the original 25 018 respondents. The nonresponse rate for the survey was 29.7%. Descriptive statistics were used to provide background information on the sample and logistic regression was used to establish a good health model.

Results/Findings: Using logistic regression analyses, 6 variables emerged as statistically significant predictors of current good health status of rural women (i.e. ages 15 to 49 years) in Jamaica. These are social standing (two wealthiest quintile – OR=0.524, 95%CI: 0.350,0.785); marital status (separated, divorced or widowed – OR=0.382, 95%CI: 0.147, 0.991); health insurance (OR=0.041, 95%CI: 0.024, 0.069); negative affective psychological conditions (OR=0.951, 95%CI:0.704, 1.284); asset ownership (OR=1.089, 95%CI:1.015, 1.168) and age of respondents (OR=0.965, 95%CI:0.949, 0.982).

Conclusion: Poverty is synonymous with rural area and women, and in spite of this reality, majority of rural women in Jamaica ages 15 to 49 years reported current good health status. Wealth creates more access to financial and other resources, and makes a difference in nutritional intake, water and food quality as well as an explanation for better environmental conditions. In this study, wealth did not mean better health but that poor women had greater health status than their wealthy counterparts. Another interesting finding was that good health is inversely correlated with the ownership of health insurance coverage.

Author(s): Paul Andrew Bourne, Joan Rhule

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