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Pneumonia among children under five in Uganda: symptom recognition and actions taken by caretakers

D Tuhebwe
E Tumushabe
E Leontsini
RK Wanyenze


Background: Pneumonia is a leading cause of death among children under five years of age. Pneumonia deaths could be averted if caretakers recognized the danger signs and sought appropriate treatment promptly.
Methods: We interviewed 278 caretakers in Mukono district Uganda, whose under-five children had suffered from probable pneumonia two weeks prior to the evaluation. Through structured questionnaires we assessed caretaker’s knowledge about danger signs among under-five children with pneumonia and the actions taken to manage probable pneumonia using descriptive statistics. We also conducted in-depth interviews with caretakers and community health workers.
Results: Lower chest wall in drawing (a pneumonia specific danger sign) was mentioned by only 9.4% of the caretakers. Among the Integrated Management of Childhood Illnesses (IMCI) standard general danger signs, inability to feed was the most commonly cited danger sign (37.8%) followed by incessant vomiting (10.1%). No caretaker mentioned all the four standard general danger signs. In terms of actions taken, most caretakers offered drinks (49.6%) and traditional herbs (45.3%) while, 31.7% gave antibiotics.
Conclusions: Caretaker’s knowledge about danger signs was inadequate in relation to the IMCI guidelines. Caretakers used both modern and traditional forms of treatment to manage pneumonia. Comprehensive interventions geared at increasing symptom recognition and improving health-seeking behavior are needed to reverse this trend.

Key words: Pneumonia, Knowledge, Dangers signs, Care seeking, Uganda.

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 1729-0503
print ISSN: 1680-6905