Impact of health education on home treatment and prevention of malaria in Jengre, North Central Nigeria.

Abstract

BACKGROUND Malaria accounts for 1 million deaths among children under five annually. It has been shown that improving home treatment and preventing delays in seeking treatment, by teaching women to respond promptly when their children have fever, can decrease malaria related complications and mortality. This study looks at the impact of health education on knowledge of malaria: its recognition, treatment and prevention among caregivers of children under five in Jengre, North Central Nigeria. METHODS The study was a community based intervention study conducted in three stages: A preintervention stage, where 150 caregivers, were selected through a multistage sampling te chnique from the households containing children under five. Information for the baseline was collected through an interviewer administered semi-structured questionnaire. The intervention consisted of a series of health education sessions designed based on findings from the pre-intervention stage. The postintervention impact assessment was conducted using a modified version of the questionnaire used in the pre intervention stage. RESULTS Malaria was recognized as one of the diseases that cause fever in community by all the respondents. Sixty-one (40.6%) had adequate knowledge concerning malaria causation, transmission, prevention and treatment. Twenty eight (56%) of respondents reported self-treatment. There was a statistically significant relationship between years of formal education and first line treatment option (P=.012). Thirty-four (68%) mothers acted within eight hours of onset of fever. The intervention had an effect on perception (P<.001), knowledge (P<.001), malaria prevention practice (P=.001), first line treatment option (P=.031) and the type of treatment given to the children with fever (P=.048). CONCLUSION Health education impacted positively caregivers' knowledge of malaria and their willingness to access antimalarial treatment when their children have fever. Malaria information should be made available to caregivers visiting child welfare clinics. Caregivers should also be integrated into malaria control activities at community level.

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