PhD Study Examines Health Behaviour in Child-headed Households
UKZN Lecturer, Dr Zandile Gumede, conducted a study for her PhD degree aimed at producing a broad picture about the health behaviour of children in child-headed households (CHHs) and issues surrounding their access to health care services.
The study titled: “Analysing the Health Behaviour of Children from Child-Headed Households in a Selected Health District in KZN, an Ethnographic Study”, highlights an anomaly in present legislation whereby the definition of a ‘child is a person below the age of 18 years’, while in a case of a child-headed household a person as young as 12 years is awarded the status of being the head of the family.
According to Gumede, the prevalence of child-headed households in South Africa was being reported on an increasing basis. ‘The phenomenon of CHHs is complex and multifaceted - it impacts on the societal framework and has profound implications for the well-being of children and the realisation of their rights.’
Gumede conducted the study for her PhD using a qualitative approach, ethnographic design and constructionist paradigms. Observation, unstructured interviews and focus group interviews were used for purposive sampling and data collection.
She says her research covered areas not dealt with previously such as the critical issue of accessing health care services and inherent barriers to it.
Her husband passed away before she completed her degree. ‘I know he is smiling up there.’
She said her family and friends were her source of inspiration. ‘They keep me smiling and appreciating the life that I have while my faith in the Lord sustains me in everything.’
Gumede is currently working on publishing her thesis and on strengthening her research skills. She plans to increase the number of graduating students under her supervision.