Knowledge on the transmission, prevention and treatment of malaria among two endemic populations of Bangladesh and their health-seeking behaviour

Syed Masud Ahmed, Rashidul Haque, Ubydul Haque, Awlad Hossain

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Background. Data on sociological and behavioural aspects of malaria, which is essential for an evidence-based design of prevention and control programmes, is lacking in Bangladesh. This paper attempts to fill this knowledge gap by using data from a population-based prevalence survey conducted during July to November 2007, in 13 endemic districts of Bangladesh. Methods. A two-stage cluster sampling technique was used to select study respondents randomly from 30 mauzas in each district for the socio-behavioural inquiry (n = 9,750). A pre-tested, semi-structured questionnaire was used to collect data in face-to-face interview by trained interviewers, after obtaining informed consent. Results. The overall malaria prevalence rate in the 13 endemic districts was found to be 3.1% by the Rapid Diagnostic Test 'FalciVax' (P. falciparum 2.73%, P. vivax 0.16% and mixed infection 0.19%), with highest concentration in the three hill districts (11%). Findings revealed superficial knowledge on malaria transmission, prevention and treatment by the respondents. Poverty and level of schooling were found as important determinants of malaria knowledge and practices. Allopathic treatment was uniformly advocated, but the 'know-do' gap became especially evident when in practice majority of the ill persons either did not seek any treatment (31%) or practiced self-treatment (12%). Of those who sought treatment, the majority went to the village doctors and drugstore salespeople (around 40%). Also, there was a delay beyond twenty-four hours in beginning treatment of malaria-like fever in more than half of the instances. In the survey, gender divide in knowledge and health-seeking behaviour was observed disfavouring women. There was also a geographical divide between the high endemic south-eastern area and the low-endemicnorth-eastern area, the former being disadvantaged with respect to different aspects of malaria studied. Conclusion. The respondents in this study lacked comprehensive knowledge on different aspects of malaria, which was influenced by level of poverty and education. A gender and geographical divide in knowledge was observed disfavouring women and south-eastern area respectively. They preferred allopathic treatment for malaria, although a substantial proportion did not seek any treatment or sought self-treatment for malaria-like fever. Delay in seeking care was common. The implications of these findings for programme development are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Article number173
JournalMalaria Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2009


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