Home treatments with antipyretics and antimalarials given to underfives with fever in Mwanza, north-western Tanzania
Early diagnosis and prompt treatment is the recommended management for febrile illness among underfives. However, improper home management may be the cause of delay in seeking professional health care. This cross-sectional study was conducted at the outpatient department of Buzuruga Health Centre in Mwanza, Tanzania and involved 372 children <5 years of age. Socio-demographic data of caregivers and children, type and source of treatment, and duration of fever were recorded. A total of 283 (76.1%) febrile underfives had received different types of treatment at home, before presenting at the hospital. The majority received antipyretics (204; 72.1%), and only a few (31; 10.9%) received antimalarials. The major sources of drugs were local drug stores (270; 94.7%). Duration of fever >1 day (OR= 2.69; 95% CI: 1.95-3.70; P<0.001), low grade fever (OR= 4.37, 95% CI: 2.60-7.35; P<0.001) and fever accompanied with other major complaints (OR= 1.14, 95%CI: 1.05 – 1.23; P=0.002) were significantly associated with prompt home medication before presenting to the health centre. In logistic regression analysis, duration of fever, low-grade fever and the presence of other symptoms remained significant predictors to receive antimalarial and or antipyretic drugs. In conclusion, home treatments with antipyretics and antimalarials in preschool children are common in Mwanza. Management of fevers may be improved by educating caregivers on community standard case definition of malaria while emphasizing the importance of early seeking of health facility services.