"Before we used to get sick all the time": Perceptions of malaria and use of long-lasting insecticide-treated bed nets (LLINs) in a rural Kenyan community

Department of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, State University of New York Upstate Medical University, SUNY Upstate Medical University, Institute for Human Performance, Syracuse, New York 13210, USA.
Malaria Journal (Impact Factor: 3.11). 11/2010; 9(1):345. DOI: 10.1186/1475-2875-9-345
Source: PubMed


Malaria is a leading global cause of preventable morbidity and mortality, especially in sub-Saharan Africa, despite recent advances in treatment and prevention technologies. Scale-up and wide distribution of long-lasting insecticide-treated nets (LLINs) could rapidly decrease malarial disease in endemic areas, if used properly and continuously. Studies have shown that effective use of LLINs depends, in part, upon understanding causal factors associated with malaria. This study examined malaria beliefs, attitudes, and practices toward LLINs assessed during a large-scale integrated prevention campaign (IPC) in rural Kenya.
Qualitative interviews were conducted with 34 IPC participants who received LLINs as part of a comprehensive prevention package of goods and services. One month after distribution, interviewers asked these individuals about their attitudes and beliefs regarding malaria, and about their use of LLINs.
Virtually all participants noted that mosquitoes were involved in causing malaria, though a substantial proportion of participants (47 percent) also mentioned an incorrect cause in addition to mosquitoes. For example, participants commonly noted that the weather (rain, cold) or consumption of bad food and water caused malaria. Regardless, most participants used the LLINs they were given and most mentioned positive benefits from their use, namely reductions in malarial illness and in the costs associated with its diagnosis and treatment.
Attitudes toward LLINs were positive in this rural community in Western Kenya, and respondents noted benefits with LLIN use. With improved understanding and clarification of the direct (mosquitoes) and indirect (e.g., standing water) causes of malaria, it is likely that LLIN use can be sustained, offering effective household-level protection against malaria.

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    • "Dirty water is also mentioned in Lukwa et al.'s (2001) study at Kariba in Zimbabwe in which 87.3% of healers mentioned that mosquitoes transmit malaria and 12.4% did not know the cause of malaria. In Ghana, Ahorlu et al. (1997) found that respondents believed that malaria was caused by eating raw or overripe fruits such as mangos while exposure to morning dew was reported in Kenya by Dye et al. (2010). Important symptoms reported in this study are headache, fever and feeling cold/goose pimples as was also reported by Tabuti (2008). "
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    ABSTRACT: Ethnopharmacological relevance: Because about 50% of the Zimbabwean population is at risk of contracting malaria each year, the majority of people, especially in rural areas, use traditional plant-based medicines to combat malaria. This explorative ethnobotanical survey was undertaken to document how malaria is conceptualized and diagnosed by traditional healers, and to record the medicinal plants used in the prevention and treatment of malaria, their mode of preparation and administration. Materials and methods: The research was conducted in three villages in Headman Muzite׳s area and in Chiriga village. These villages are located in the Chipinge district in the Manicaland Province in Zimbabwe.Traditional healers were selected with the assistance of the headman of the Muzite area and a representative of the Zimbabwe National Traditional Healers Association. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 14 traditional healers from four villages in the Chipinge district in Zimbabwe. Results: In total, 28 plants from 16 plant families are used by the healers who manage malaria with medicinal plants. The most cited plant is Cassia abbreviata Oliv. (Leguminosae) followed by Aristolochia albida Duch (Aristolociaceae) and Toddalia asiatica (L.) Lam. (Rutaceae). Roots (55.3%) are the most common part used. Most of the plant parts used to treat malaria are stored as dried powders in closed bottles. The powders are soaked in hot or cold water and the water extract is taken as the active medicine. The healers consider their medicinal knowledge as a spiritual family heritage. Only 25% of the healers refer the malaria patients that do not respond to their treatment to hospital - they believe evil spirits cause their remedies to failure and they would rather try a different plant or perform a cleansing ceremony. Conclusions: Local knowledge of medicinal plants in the treatment of malaria still exists in all four villages surveyed and traditional healers appear to play an important role in primary health care services in this remote rural area in Zimbabwe. This explorative survey underscores the need to preserve and document traditional healing for managing malaria and for more future scientific research on the plants to determine their efficacy and their safety. This could improve their traditional anti-malarial recipes and might contribute to a better integration of Zimbabwean traditional medicine into the national health system in the future.
    Journal of Ethnopharmacology 01/2015; 159:224-237. DOI:10.1016/j.jep.2014.11.011 · 3.00 Impact Factor
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    • "In 2006, Kenya’s National Malaria Control Programme began to introduce ITNs in our study area through government health facilities [45]. ITNs remain as the main malaria control tool in the area [46]. Currently, there is an estimated 80% ITN household coverage, where a household is considered to be ITN covered if there is at least one ITN for each two residents [44]. "
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    ABSTRACT: Mass insecticide treated bed net (ITN) deployment, and its associated coverage of populations at risk, had "pushed" a decline in malaria transmission. However, it is unknown whether malaria control is being enhanced by zooprophylaxis, i.e., mosquitoes diverted to feed on hosts different from humans, a phenomenon that could further reduce malaria entomological transmission risk in areas where livestock herding is common. Between May and July 2009, we collected mosquitoes in 104 houses from three neighboring villages with high ITN coverage (over 80%), along Lake Victoria. We also performed a census of livestock in the area and georeferenced tethering points for all herds, as well as, mosquito larval habitats. Bloodmeal contents from sampled mosquitoes were analyzed, and each mosquito was individually tested for malaria sporozoite infections. We then evaluated the association of human density, ITN use, livestock abundance and larval habitats with mosquito abundance, bloodfeeding on humans and malaria sporozoite rate using generalized linear mixed effects models. We collected a total of 8123 mosquitoes, of which 1664 were Anopheles spp. malaria vectors over 295 household spray catches. We found that vector household abundance was mainly driven by the number of householders (P < 0.05), goats/sheep tethered around the house (P < 0.05) and ITNs, which halved mosquito abundance (P < 0.05). In general, similar patterns were observed for Anopheles arabiensis, but not An. gambiae s.s. and An. funestus s.s., whose density did not increase with the presence of livestock animals. Feeding on humans significantly increased in all species with the number of householders (P < 0.05), and only significantly decreased for An. arabiensis in the presence of cattle (P < 0.05). Only 26 Anopheles spp. vectors had malaria sporozoites with the sporozoite rate significantly decreasing as the proportion of cattle feeding mosquitoes increased (P < 0.05). Our data suggest that cattle, in settings with large ITN coverage, have the potential to drive an unexpected "push-pull" malaria control system, where An. arabiensis mosquitoes "pushed" out of human contact by ITNs are likely being further "pulled" by cattle.
    Parasites & Vectors 01/2014; 7(1):52. DOI:10.1186/1756-3305-7-52 · 3.43 Impact Factor
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    • "The reported practices on maintaining personal and environmental hygiene for malaria prevention were consistent with the local perception of causes and disease transmission. Examples from the African settings also demonstrate incorrect perceptions of disease transmission leading to inappropriate preventive behaviours without any change in malaria incidence [6,18]. "
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    ABSTRACT: Background The focus of India’s National Malaria Programme witnessed a paradigm shift recently from health facility to community-based approaches. The current thrust is on diagnosing and treating malaria by community health workers and prevention through free provision of long-lasting insecticidal nets. However, appropriate community awareness and practice are inevitable for the effectiveness of such efforts. In this context, the study assessed community perceptions and practice on malaria and similar febrile illnesses. This evidence base is intended to direct the roll-out of the new strategies and improve community acceptance and utilization of services. Methods A qualitative study involving 26 focus group discussions and 40 key informant interviews was conducted in two districts of Odisha State in India. The key points of discussion were centred on community perceptions and practice regarding malaria prevention and treatment. Thematic analysis of data was performed. Results The 272 respondents consisted of 50% females, three-quarter scheduled tribe community and 30% students. A half of them were literates. Malaria was reported to be the most common disease in their settings with multiple modes of transmission by the FGD participants. Adoption of prevention methods was seasonal with perceived mosquito density. The reported use of bed nets was low and the utilization was determined by seasonality, affordability, intoxication and alternate uses of nets. Although respondents were aware of malaria-related symptoms, care-seeking from traditional healers and unqualified providers was prevalent. The respondents expressed lack of trust in the community health workers due to frequent drug stock-outs. The major determinants of health care seeking were socio-cultural beliefs, age, gender, faith in the service provider, proximity, poverty, and perceived effectiveness of available services. Conclusion Apart from the socio-cultural and behavioural factors, the availability of acceptable care can modulate the community perceptions and practices on malaria management. The current community awareness on symptoms of malaria and prevention is fair, yet the prevention and treatment practices are not optimal. Promoting active community involvement and ownership in malaria control and management through strengthening community based organizations would be relevant. Further, timely availability of drugs and commodities at the community level can improve their confidence in the public health system.
    Malaria Journal 01/2013; 12(1):39. DOI:10.1186/1475-2875-12-39 · 3.11 Impact Factor
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