Malaria‐related beliefs and behaviour in southern Ghana: implications for treatment, prevention and control
A research infrastructure was established in two ecological zones in southern Ghana to study the variables of malaria transmission and provide information to support the country's Malaria Action Plan (MAP) launched in 1992. Residents' beliefs and practices about causes, recognition, treatment and prevention of malaria were explored in two ecological zones in southern Ghana using epidemiological and social research methods. In both communities females constituted more than 80% of caretakers of children 1–9 years and the illiteracy rate was high. Fever and malaria, which are locally called Asra or Atridi, were found to represent the same thing and are used interchangeably. Caretakers were well informed about the major symptoms of malaria, which correspond to the current clinical case definition of malaria. Knowledge about malaria transmission is, however, shrouded in many misconceptions. Though the human dwellings in the study communities conferred no real protection against mosquitoes, bednet usage was low while residents combatted the nuisance of mosquitoes with insecticide sprays, burning of coils and herbs, which they largely considered as temporary measures. Home treatment of malaria combining herbs and over‐the‐counter drugs and inadequate doses of chloroquine was widespread. There is a need for a strong educational component to be incorporated into the MAP to correct misconceptions about malaria transmission, appropriate treatment and protection of households. Malaria control policies should recognize the role of home treatment and drug shops in the management of malaria and incorporate them into existing control strategies.