Community perception of malaria and its influence on health-seeking behaviour in rural Ghana: a descriptive study

Laar, A. S., Laar, A. K., & Dalinjong, P. A. (2013)


Background. Approximately 300 million clinical episodes of malaria occur globally, out of which an estimated 1 million persons die every year. Ninety per cent of these malaria deaths occur in tropical Africa. Despite decades of great effort to control malaria in Ghana, it still remains a serious public health problem affecting all ages. Materials and Methods.A descriptive cross-sectional study was conducted to assess local perceptions on malaria and health seeking behaviour among inhabitants in the Kassena-Nankana district in the Upper East Region of Ghana. A total of 120 respondents were included in the study through a systematic random sampling procedure of households. The head of a household or his/her partner was interviewed using a structured questionnaire.Results. The majority (65%) of respondents had awareness about malaria and linked it to mosquito bites. They had knowledge about malaria through health workers including health professionals from the Navrongo Health Research Centre (NHRC) (83.3%), radio (7.3%), television (5.8%), friends (1.7%) or newspapers (0.8%). The results also showed that people incorporated traditional and modern elements into their concept of the disease and treatment strategies. Conclusions. Perceptions and health-seeking behaviour are critical to the success and sustainability of malaria management and control. Understanding local concepts of illness and their influence on health care-seeking behaviour can complement existing knowledge to help develop more effective malaria control interventions in these communities.

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