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East African Medical Journal

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Knowledge and Perceptions on Malaria and Its Association with Aquatic Habitats

SO Adoka, DN Anyona, P Abuom, AS Matano, SK Gichere, T Okurut, WO Opiyo, D Othero, JM Vulule, AV Ofulla

Abstract


Background: Malaria remains the major cause of morbidity and mortality among children in Kenya. About 70 percent of the population is at risk of infection, and roughly 34,000 young children die of malaria-related causes annually.
Objective: To investigate the knowledge and perceptions of the local people for malaria in relation to aquatic habitats along the Kenyan Lake Victoria basin.
Design: Community-based cross-sectional study.
Setting: The Kenyan Lake Victoria basin Region.
Subjects: Two hundred and fourty three individuals (both women and men residing in the beaches and surrounding areas) were interviewed about their knowledge and perceptions regarding malaria.
Results: Mosquitoes were perceived to be the main cause of malaria. Most respondents were familiar with the main signs and symptoms of mild malaria. Majority of the respondents had poor knowledge of mosquito breeding habitats with 45% mentioning the lake and only 18.6 and 8.9% mentioning ponds and dams, respectively. Most female respondents did not know the difference between mosquitoes and lake flies, P=0.03, Fishers exact test. The majority (97.5%) of the respondents reported seeking conventional malaria treatment from health institutions.
Conclusion: Mosquitoes are perceived to be the main cause of malaria by both males and females. A significant proportion of the respondents were familiar with the main signs and symptoms of malaria and sought conventional medicine for treatment of the disease. Most of the respondents, however, had poor knowledge on the breeding habitats of mosquitoes. Concerted effort is needed to scale-up health education and improve the knowledge of the community about mosquitoes and their breeding habitats, particularly malaria vectors which do not breed in deep lake waters. Effective anti-malarial drugs should also be available at the grassroots level where the problem of malaria is rampant.



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