We present qualitative research findings on care-seeking and treatment uptake for pneumonia, diarrhoea and malaria among children under 5 in Kenya, Nigeria and Niger. The study aimed to determine the barriers caregivers face in accessing treatment for these conditions; to identify local solutions that facilitate more timely access to treatment; and to present these findings as a platform from which to develop context-specific strategies to improve care-seeking for childhood illness. Kenya, Nigeria and Niger are three high burden countries with low rates of related treatment coverage, particularly in underserved areas. Data were collected in Homa Bay County in Nyanza Province, Kenya; in Kebbi and Cross River States, Nigeria; and in the Maradi and Tillabéri regions of Niger. Primary caregivers of children under 5 who did not regularly engage with health services or present their child at a health facility during illness episodes were purposively selected for interview. Data underwent rigorous thematic analysis. We organise the identified barriers and related solutions by theme: financial barriers; distance/location of health facilities; socio-cultural barriers and gender dynamics; knowledge and information barriers; and health facility deterrents. The relative importance of each differed by locality. Participant suggested solutions ranged from community-level actions to facility-level and more policy-oriented actions, plus actions to change underlying problems such as social perceptions and practices and gender dynamics. We discuss the feasibility and implications of these suggested solutions. Given the high burden of childhood morbidity and mortality due to pneumonia, diarrhoea and malaria in Kenya, Nigeria and Niger, this study provides important insights relating to demand-side barriers and locally proposed solutions. Significant advancements are possible when communities participate in both problem identification and resolution, and are engaged as important partners in improving child health and survival.
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