Effect of Health Education and Provision of ITNs and ACTs on Mothers’ Knowledge and Practice of Management of Malaria in Dunukofia Local Government Area, Anambra State
It is estimated that at least 10% of all childhood deaths are due directly to malaria. In Nigeria, only about 20% of malaria episodes are treated in the health centres while care provided at home and community ranked first in the actions taken during illness in under fives. These treatments are usually incorrect or sub-optimal, because of inadequate knowledge of malaria and the treatment. The main purpose of this study is to develop and test the effectiveness of health education and free supply of ITNs and ACTs in enhancing and improving the knowledge and practice of mothers towards management of malaria in Dunukofia Local Government Area of Anambra State. Methods: Two rural communit ies, lfitedunu and Ukwulu in Dunukofia LGA were randomized into study and control communit ies. A total of 425 mothers with children aged 0-5 years were studied. Data was coIlected at baseline and 3 months post- intervention using a structured, pre-tested .interviewer administered questionnaire. SPSS version 11 software package was used for data analysis. The data coIlected was analyzed using statistic al mean score, chi-square test and percentages. The hypotheses were tested at 0.05 percent level of significance. Results: Knowledge of correct mode of transmission of malaria increased significantly after intervention from 80.3% to 89.6%. Majority of the women recognized fever and loss of appeti te as symptoms of malaria in children pre and post intervention (79.3 %-94.8%) Following the intervention, identification of headache, cllills and rigor, body aches and pains as features of malaria improved from 2l .6 -4 ~•7 % to 70.6-84.4%. However vomiting remained the least recognized feature of malaria in underfives pre and post interv ent ion (O.O%and 9.5%). Health education also improved patronage of private hospitals /clinics from 6.9% to 22.7% and decreased the use of drug stores from 21.6% to – .5%. The proportion of mothers engaged in home treatment of malaria did not improve significantly after intervention, but 61.1% who engaged in it used ACTs compared to 4.3% at baseline. Also, there was significant increase in environmental sanitation (from 65.5%to 75.8%), IT (17.4% to 57.8%) and nets for windows and doors (44 .1% to 66.8%) for malaria prevention. Conclusion: The study revealed high knowledge of malaria transmission and recognition among the mothers, although there is a gap in knowledge which influenced their practices. Following health education there was significant change in knowledge and practice except for choice of place of treatment. Therefore, sustained health education should be carried out in communities to improve knowledge of malaria, the use of ITNs and appropriate treatment of malaria.