HEALTH SEEKING BEHAVIOUR AMONG ADULT ORANG ASLI (INDIGENOUS PEOPLES) FROM RURAL NEGERI SEMBILAN, MALAYSIA: A MIXED-METHODS STUDY
Globally, the minority indigenous peoples have a lower health status when compared with national populations. The Orang Asli who are indigenous peoples of Peninsular Malaysia, also poses a significant challenge towards the handling of diseases. The present study sought to synthesise a coherent explanation of health-seeking behaviour among Orang Asli using a mixed-method research approach. A cross-sectional survey was conducted among 324 adult Orang Asli living in the rural district of Jelebu, in the Peninsular Malaysian state of Negeri Sembilan who conformed to the inclusion criteria. Then, 16 participants were interviewed to obtain an in-depth insight regarding their health-seeking behaviour. The findings showed that the majority of the Orang Asli utilized modern healthcare facilities and the respondents reported that the accessibility, services and medicines provided by the government were excellent. Meanwhile, 40.7% of the respondents relied on both traditional and modern treatments. The key determinants of the modern health-seeking behaviours among the Orang Asli in this study were satisfaction on modern health, barriers in getting health services, acceptance and attitude, and traditional medicine utilisation. Government, institutions and healthcare facilities have a role in ensuring that the vulnerable Orang Asli population is not left behind in receiving essential information on diseases associated with chronic and infectious diseases, including the current COVID-19 pandemic, as their action of seeking treatment remains complex and multi-layered.
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