Nexus between culture and health: Perceptions and management of malaria in rural Nigeria
Malaria is a leading cause of morbidity and mortality in Nigeria, especially in rural areas among children under the age of five years. This cannot be unconnected from the fact that malaria control programmes and strategies have not taken cognisance of the local perceptions of the causes and symptoms as well as management of malaria in rural communities of Nigeria. The article is based on the study that examined the nexus between culture and health with emphasis on the perceptions of the causes and symptoms as well as management of malaria in Okanle and Fajeromi communities in Kwara State, Nigeria. The study was guided by the constructionist paradigm through the use of semi-structured interviews, in-depth interviews and focus group discussion (FGD). The majority of the respondents were mothers of children below the age of five. Although the perceived threat and symptoms of malaria in children as reported by caregivers were in tandem with biomedical constructions, the perceived causes and management sharply contradicted biomedical knowledge. Such contradiction has significant implications on health seeking behaviour of caregivers as well as malaria control programmes in rural communities of Nigeria. While it is undisputable fact that caregivers in local communities require informed education about the aetiology and management of malaria in children, there is the need for intensification of scientific investigation into the efficacy or otherwise of indigenous knowledge medicine (IKM) in the management of malaria in indigenous communities of Nigeria.
Keywords: Malaria, children, rural communities, indigenous knowledge, herbal medicine, Nigeria