Perception of chloroquine efficacy and alternative treatments for uncomplicated malaria in children in a holoendemic area of Tanzania: implications for the change of treatment policy
Prior to policy change from chloroquine (CQ) to sulphadoxine/pyrimethamine (S/P; Fansidar) we assessed the perception of CQ efficacy and the alternative treatment options for malaria in children among parents/guardians (N=527) of under-fives attending first level health facilities on account of fever. It was hypothesized that the long experience with CQ and its antipyretic effect (lacking in S/P) might impede acceptance of S/P for wider use as first-line drug. Malarial fevers in children were most commonly treated with CQ (92.8%), followed by quinine (60.7%) and S/P (28.7%). A 63.2% knew the reasons for non-response to antimalarial treatment, and only 50% were aware that CQ could fail to treat malaria, and 57.1% knew alternative treatment options, namely quinine (52.2%) and S/P (20.5%). Generally, decreased efficacy of CQ had been noticed, and quinine was prescribed for both suspected and proven CQ failures in first level health facilities and the district hospital. S/P was judged to be more effective than quinine, but too strong for children, and was the least known drug in the study area. All formulations of S/P cost more per dose for a child and an adult than CQ. The implications of these findings on the change of malaria treatment policy are discussed.