Social determinants of health is a core cross-cutting approach of the World Health Organization to reduce health inequalities, and places an emphasis on aged care planning in rural areas of low- and lower-middle income countries including Bangladesh. The complex correlated health and social factors in Bangladesh interplay to shape the healthcare access of rural people. This impact is significant for rural elderly women in particular who have been shown to access healthcare in ways that are described as ‘socially determined’. This study aimed to explore how this cohort related their healthcare access to their living circumstances and provided insight into how their healthcare access needs can be addressed. This study was a critical social theoretical exploration from conversational interviews held over three months with 25 elderly women in rural Bangladesh. Two critical social constructs, ‘emancipation’ of Habermas and ‘recognition’ of Honneth, were used in the exploration and explanation of the influence of personal circumstances, society and system on rural elderly women’s healthcare access. The concept of ‘social determinants of healthcare access’ is defined from the physical, emotive, symbolic and imaginative experiences of these women. Interviewing the women provided information for exploration of the determinants that characterized their experiences into an overall construct of ‘The World is Not Mine’. This construct represented four themes focusing on the exclusion from healthcare, oppressive socioeconomic condition, marginalization in social relationships and personal characteristics that led the women to avoid or delay access to modern healthcare. This study confirms that the rural elderly women require adequate policy responses from the government, and also need multiple support systems to secure adequate access to healthcare. As healthcare services are often a reflection of community values and human rights concerns for the elderly, there is a need of recognition and respect of their voice by the family members, society and the healthcare system in planning and implementation of a prudent aged care policy for rural elderly women in Bangladesh.
- Critical social research, Bangladesh
- Healthcare access
- Rural elderly women
- Social determinants