Factors influencing health care seeking behaviour for childhoods malaria in Makuyu Division of Maragua district, Kenya
Mathenje, Agnes Daniel
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Malaria is a life threatening parasitic disease of major Public Health concern especially in Sub-Saharan Africa; where it kills more than l million children every year. The main objective of the study was to investigate the factors that influence health care seeking behavior for childhood malaria in Makuyu Division of Maragua District, Kenya. To achieve a desired representation, simple random sampling of the households with under fives was carried out. About 306 mothers/caretakers of the under fives from Makuyu Division were interviewed using structured interview schedules. Focus group discussions were also used to gather information on how mothers/caretakers recognize childhood malaria and the general community health care practices. Structured observations were carried out to identify environmental and visible evidence of malaria control activities. The data obtained was analyzed using a Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) 11.5 and excel computer programs, Chi square was used to test for association between various selected variables. Eighty four (84%) of the respondents were mothers to the children, while fathers formed only 8.2%. Malaria remained a major cause of childhood morbidity as 75.2.°1 caregivers reported that their children: had malaria episodes two weeks prior to the study. More than half (54.9%) of the caretakers preferred taking their children to health facilities for management of malaria, while 32.7% bought over the counter drugs. Slightly more than a half (51°1) used Sulphanomide (fansidar) bought from the shops to manage childhood malaria. Male partners, especially among the married couples played a key role in decision making at the household level regarding actions taken against childhood malaria. The level of knowledge of the signs, transmission, treatment and prevention of childhood malaria among the respondents was significantly- high at (r2=0.175, d,f=1, p<0.05) among the respondents. A significant relationship between the level of knowledge of symptoms of childhood malaria and use of health facilities for case management was noted al (x2=15.7.078, d,f=2, p< 0.15). Low socio-economic status of the caretakers/mothers negatively affected appropriate cure seeking for childhood malaria. A significant relationship between the respondents occupation and the time taken to take the sick child to the health facility for case management of childhood malaria was noted at (x2=155,99, d.f ' -4, p<0.05). The study concludes that due to the belief that child's symptoms are self abating, and that the treatment is available at home in a form of purchased or left over drugs, some mothers/caretakers delay appropriate care. The study recommends intensified health education in the community and strengthening of the community based systems such as the community health workers to enable them disseminate health messages and interpret the GOK guidelines on the management of childhood malaria. The government agencies need to intensify surveillance to ensure implementation of its guidelines such as ensuring that the banned drugs such as chloroquin and fansidor do not find their way to the public.