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S Afr Med J. 2000 Jun;90(6):611-6.

Community knowledge and perceptions about malaria and practices influencing malaria control in Mpumalanga Province, South Africa.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

To assess community knowledge and perceptions about malaria and its control in a rural setting.

DESIGN:

Descriptive cross-sectional survey.

SETTING:

Tonga district with a population of 116,418, seasonal malaria with an annual incidence of 3,200 cases.

SUBJECTS:

Female heads of 299 randomly selected households.

METHODOLOGY:

A total of 299 households were selected from a random sample of 30 clusters. Community knowledge and perceptions about malaria and its control were assessed by interviews with the female head of each of the 299 selected households.

RESULTS:

Respondents ranked malaria as the third most serious health problem facing the community after TB and AIDS. Seventy-two per cent (214/299) of respondents reported that they knew what malaria disease was and of these, 92.1% (197/214) mentioned mosquito bites as the cause of malaria. The respondents' understanding of the causal role of mosquitoes in malaria was significantly related to their knowledge about disease symptoms (P < 0.001). Reported community compliance with the malaria control programme (MCP) was satisfactory; 86.6% (259/299) of respondents reported that their homes had been sprayed during the past 2 years but 10.0% (30/299) did not know why homes were sprayed. Hospitals or clinics were the facilities where respondents most commonly sought treatment for fever; 66.9% (200/299) reported that they would seek treatment immediately after the onset of high fever. Specific practices such as replastering or washing of inside walls compromised the effectiveness of the MCP. Personal preventive measures were sometimes used against malaria (50.8%, 152/299) and use was positively associated with education level (P = 0.001). Respondents expressed their desire for more information about malaria and their willingness to contribute to the control of malaria in their community.

CONCLUSION:

The survey collected information which was directly relevant to the development of health education messages to increase community awareness of the problem of malaria, to emphasise the importance of early diagnosis and prompt treatment of malaria, to improve community understanding of the function of indoor residual spraying, and to enlighten the population of the role of mosquitoes in malaria transmission and the availability and benefits of personal protection measures against mosquito bites.

PMID:
10918892
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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