Perception of onchocerciasis by rural hausa women in northeast Nigeria and the implications for onchocerciasis control
The survey was conducted to explore the hard-held beliefs of rural Hausa women that help to sustain onchocerciasis transmission in an onchocerciasis endemic focus in North eastern Nigeria. The beliefs explored pertained to the perceived symptoms and effects of onchocerciasis peculiar to women. The study area was the Hawul River Valley, North Eastern, Nigeria. An area known for serious ocular and socio-economic tolls of onchocerciasis. 158 women (age range 20 to 60) enlisted by purposive sampling were surveyed on their disease perception of onchocerciasis using standard guidelines. Focal group discussions, in-depth interviews and questionnaires were used as instruments. The disorders that the respondents associated with onchocerciasis included blindness (86.1 %), various menstrual problems (65.8 %), impaired (failing/blurred) Vision (61.4 %) and itching (58.2 %). Least responses were for ¡¥others¡¦ (17.7 %) and scrotal enlargement (22.8%). The respondents significantly associated barrenness (ƒÓ2 = 3.41; df = 4; P < 0.05) and foetal abortion/miscarriage (ƒÓ2 = 1.53; df = 4; P < 0.05), with onchocerciasis but their association of scrotal elephantiasis was statistically insignificant (ƒÓ2 = 0.26; df = 4; P > 0.01). Irregular menstruation (54.8 %); prolonged menstrual period (36.5%); painful menstruation (29.8 %) and others (22.1 %) were implicated for menstrual problems. Popular beliefs and deep-rooted convictions are valuable in formulating socio-culturally accepted health education programmes that directly address people¡¦s areas of concern while deep-rooted ignorance and incorrect beliefs about the causes and effects of a disease may lead to neglect of personal protection measures and allow the intensification of disease morbidity. The study throws more insight into local disease perception, which is known to have direct effect on health and illness behaviour.