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Background: Timely health care among children with suspected malaria, and intermittent preventive treatment (IPTp) in pregnancy avert related morbidity and mortality in endemic regions especially in sub-Saharan Africa. Malaria burden has steadily been declining in endemic countries due to progress made in scaling up of such important interventions.
Objectives: The study assessed malaria health seeking practices for children under five years of age, and IPTp in Wakiso district, Uganda.
Methods: A structured questionnaire was used to collect data from 727 households. Chi-square and Fisher’s exact tests were performed in STATA to ascertain factors associated with the place where treatment for children with suspected malaria was first sought (government versus private facility) and uptake of IPTp.
Results: Among caretakers of children with suspected malaria, 69.8% sought care on the day of onset of symptoms. The place where treatment was first sought for the children (government versus private) was associated with participants’ (household head or other adult) age (p < 0.001), education level (p < 0.001) and household income (p = 0.011). Among women who had a child in the five years preceding the study, 179 (63.0%) had obtained two or more IPTp doses during their last pregnancy. Uptake of two or more IPTp doses was associated with the women’s education level (p = 0.006), having heard messages about malaria through mass media (p = 0.008), knowing the recommended number of IPTp doses (p < 0.001), and knowing the drug used in IPTp (p < 0.001).
Conclusion: There is need to improve malaria health seeking practices among children and pregnant women particularly IPTp through programmes aimed at increasing awareness among the population.
Keywords: Health seeking behaviour; intermittent preventive treatment; malaria; children; pregnancy; Uganda.