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Free Content Home treatment of ‘malaria’ in children in rural Gambia is uncommon

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Home treatment with antimalarials is a common practice in many countries, and may save lives by ensuring that more malaria cases receive prompt treatment. Through retrospective surveys we found that home treatment of young children with antimalarials was uncommon in rural Gambia. Few families kept medicines in the home in case of illness, 28% kept paracetamol and only 8% kept chloroquine. Less than 10% of cases of childhood ‘malaria’ had been treated with chloroquine at home, and 69% of those giving home medication did not know the correct dosage for a child. The most common course of treatment was the use of paracetamol and/or tepid sponging to reduce fever, before the child was taken to a government health facility. Treating a child with antimalarials at home was more costly than other forms of treatment. The low cost associated with the use of health services for children and the limited availability of antimalarials outside major towns contribute to the high use of government health services. This shows that that home treatment cannot be assumed to be the predominant mode of malaria treatment throughout Africa, and highlights the need for country-specific policies based on accurate local knowledge of treatment practices in both rural and urban areas.

Keywords: The Gambia; antimalarials; economic cost; health services; home treatment; malaria; treatment patterns

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Medical Research Council Laboratories, Fajara and Farafenni, The Gambia 2: Danish Bilharziasis Laboratory, Charlottenlund, Denmark

Publication date: October 1, 2003


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