Factors affecting treatment practices of patent medicine vendors for malaria in under-five children: implications for malaria control in Nigeria
Background: Patent medicine vendors (PMVs) are the most common source of antimalarial drugs and treatment for majority of Nigerians. The quality of their practice could have implications for malaria control. This study sought to explore the factors influencing the malaria treatment practices of PMVs for under-five children in Akwa Ibom State.
Methods: A cross-sectional survey using an interviewer-administered questionnaire was conducted among 176 PMVs selected by simple random sampling from two local government areas (LGAs). In addition, four focus group discussions (FGD) were conducted to generate qualitative data. Quantitative data was analysed using SPSS version 20 while content analysis was done on the qualitative data.
Results: Artemisinin Combination Therapy (ACT) was the most frequently recommended antimalarial treatment by PMVs (75.6%) for children as against chloroquine (17%) and Sulphadoxine/Pyrimethamine (2.8%). However, only 39.2% of PMVs recommended the appropriate antimalarial treatment (ACTs at the right dose for age), while 71% recommended referral for severe malaria. Factors found to be associated with appropriate management of malaria from quantitative analysis included Educational qualification, attending malaria training and their knowledge of malaria. The FGDs showed that severity of
child’s illness, parents/caregivers drug request and perceived ability of the parents/caregiver to afford the drugs influenced PMVs malaria treatment practices.
Conclusion: Knowledge of malaria, severity of child’s illness and parents’ drug request influenced the treatment practices of PMVs. Training PMVs on appropriate malaria management and community health education/sensitization to leverage on the influence of client-demand on ACT use is recommended to improve PMVs treatment practice.
Keywords: Malaria, under-five children, patent medicine vendors, ACT, Nigeria
Funding: This study was conducted using mainly personal funds of the lead author with some support from the University
of Uyo Teaching Hospital.