Document Type: Original Article
Department of Community Medicine, College of Medicine, University of Nigeria, Enugu Campus, Enugu State, Nigeria
Health Policy and Research Group Enugu, Enugu State, Nigeria
Department of Community Medicine, College of Health Sciences, Ebonyi State University, Abakaliki, Nigeria
Department of Community Medicine, University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital Ituku-Ozalla, Enugu State, Nigeria
Malaria accounts for 60% of outpatient visits in Nigeria. The aim of the study was to assess the knowledge of malaria and its treatment practices in Enugu state, Nigeria.
Qualitative data was collected through the use of focus group discussions (FGDs), from six villages three each from urban and rural areas of Enugu state, Nigeria. A total of 18 FGDs involving 189 participants were conducted and data on place of treatment for malaria and drug of choice for malaria treatment were collected.
Most discussants had a good knowledge of the signs and symptoms of malaria. They reported late for treatment when they had symptoms suggestive of malaria. Treatment timing was affected by financial capability and perceived severity of disease. There was preference for patent medicine dealers (PMDs) and pharmacies for malaria treatment. The reasons included drug affordability, obtaining preferred drug, short waiting time and polite treatment from the providers. Treatment in most cases was without proper malaria diagnosis. Cost was an important factor in determining the drug of choice for malaria treatment. This could explain why people were not aware of the use of artemisininbased combination therapy while preferring mono-therapies and herbal drugs. Public hospitals were considered as good sources of treatment for malaria although they remain the last resort when treatment from these drug outlets failed.
The community members preferred PMDs and pharmacies for malaria treatment. Unfortunately, these drug outlets do not encourage the use of artemisinin combination therapy (ACT). This makes it necessary that pharmacists and PMDs are trained on management of malaria. Also, improving the knowledge of the public on the need for malaria diagnosis before treatment and use of artemisinin-based combination therapy will improve the control of malaria. The populace should be instructed to seek treatment early while also discouraging the use of herbal drugs for malaria treatment. There is also the need to improve service delivery at public health facilities.