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Mothers' perceptions and knowledge on childhood malaria in the holendemic Kibaha district, Tanzania: implications for malaria control and the IMCI strategy

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Prior to an intervention on improving the quality of malaria case management, we assessed mothers' abilities to recognize nonsevere and severe/complicated malaria in children when a child has fever with other physiological and behavioural symptoms associated with malaria. Malaria was mentioned as the commonest febrile illness (94.1%), convulsions the least (11.4%). Fever and enteric symptoms featured as the most important symptoms of childhood malaria at frequencies of 93.5% and 73.8%, respectively. The need for laboratory diagnosis was very high (98.3%), the reason being to get accurate diagnosis and treatment (89.4%). Poor outcome of treatment was ascribed to incorrect diagnosis and prescription, noncompliance at home and ineffective drugs (62.1%). Most mothers (86.6%) would take antipyretic measures first when a child has fever, and subsequently the majority (92.9%) would seek care at a modern health facility. About 50% of the mothers would give traditional treatments for childhood convulsions and wait till fits cease before the next action. A high proportion of the mothers (75%) held the belief that an injection in a child with high fever would precipitate convulsions or death. The implications of these findings for chemotherapeutic malaria control in holoendemic areas within the context of the Integrated Management of Childhood Illnesses (IMCI) strategy are discussed.

Keywords: childhood illnesses; fever; malaria control,Tanzania; suspicion index

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Department of Parasitology/Entomology, Institute of Public Health, Muhimbili University College of Health Sciences, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania 2: Department of Behavioural Sciences, Institute of Public Health, Muhimbili University College of Health Sciences, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania 3: Department of International Health, Institute of Public Health, University of Copenhagen, Denmark

Publication date: March 1, 2000


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