Knowledge, beliefs and attitude towards malaria control and prevention among students in tertiary institutions in the Gambia
Even though Malaria caused by five parasite species, two of which – Plasmodium falciparum and Plasmodium vivax is preventable, curable and treatable, it continues to pose a significant health threat to many communities around the world. Particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa, The Gambia is one of the African countries that has seen a significant reduction in malaria cases. Malaria cases in The Gambia had decreased gradually from 346.9 per 100,000 persons in 2004 to 66 per 100,000 people in 2018. The fight against malaria is great progress for the future.
This study aimed at assessing the knowledge, attitude and practice of students attending tertiary institutions in The Gambia in regard to Malaria prevention and control.
From May to June 2021, a standardized pre-tested semi-structured questionnaire was used to obtain information from 431 students in four public institutions in The Gambia. The University of The Gambia (UTG) Brikama Campus, The Gambia College-Brikama Campus, Management Development Institution (MDI) and The Gambia Technical Training Institution (GTTI. Respondents were chosen using a random sampling approach of students who were found on campuses and consented to participate. Sample size was determined using the formula described by Thrusfield (2007) based on a 95% confidence interval. It was first entered into excel and then exported to SPSS version 22 (SPSS Inc., Chicago, Ill., USA) for data analyses.
The aetiology, symptoms and therapy of malaria were all well-understood by the respondents. Age (P-value=0.005) and program of study (P-value=0.014) were highly significant with students’ knowledge on the mode of transmission of malaria as for students belief of the disease. Institution of learning Odd ratio (1.385, P value=0.003) was the only factor which affected students perception of malaria. Gender (Odd ratio=2.491, P-value=0.005) and the institution of learning (Odd ratio=1.506, P-value=0.003) were factors which had a high statistical significance with students practice of sleep under an ITNs.
This study reported a high level of knowledge, poor attitude and practice towards malaria control interventions among students attending tertiary institutions in The Gambia. Students from the UTG and GTTI showed a better positive knowledge than those from the other participants. Their curriculum studies and social activities (individual students’ unions) exposed them to a higher level of awareness.
Health-related programs on malaria prevention and control should be organized to raise awareness in through television and radio or any other media. Health education should be a compulsory topic or module in institutions.