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Community knowledge variation, bed-net coverage, the role of a district health care system and their implications for malaria control in Southern Malawi

Masangwi, Salule Joseph and Grimason, Anthony and Morse, Tracy and Ferguson, Neil and Kazembe, L.N. (2012) Community knowledge variation, bed-net coverage, the role of a district health care system and their implications for malaria control in Southern Malawi. Southern African Journal of Epidemiology and Infection, 27 (3). pp. 116-125. ISSN 1015-8782

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Abstract

This paper presents data on the pattern of knowledge of caregivers, bed-net coverage and the role of a rural district healthcare system, and their implications for malaria transmission, treatment, prevention and control in Chikhwawa, southern Malawi, using multi-level logistic regression modelling with Bayesian estimation. The majority of caregivers could identify the main symptoms of malaria, that the mosquito was the vector, and that insecticide-treated nets (ITN) could be used to cover beds as an effective preventative measure, although cost was a prohibitive factor. Use of bed nets displayed significant variation between communities. Groups that were more knowledgeable on malaria prevention and symptoms included young mothers, people who had attended school, wealthy individuals, those residing closest to government hospitals and health posts, and communities that had access to a health surveillance assistant (HSA). HSAs should be trained on malaria intervention programmes, and tasked with the responsibility of working with village health committees to develop community-based malaria intervention programmes. These programmes should include appropriate and affordable household improvement methods, identification of high-risk groups, distribution of ITNs and the incorporation of larval control measures, to reduce exposure to the vector and parasite. This would reduce the transmission and prevalence of malaria at community level.