Molyko, Southwest Region - Buea, Cameroon


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The main objective of this study is to investigate Parent’s knowledge of risk factors and prevention strategies of Malaria among infants at the Buea Regional Hospital. Specifically, the study seeks to access Parent’s knowledge on the risk factors of Malaria among infants at the Buea Regional Hospital and to ascertain Parent’s knowledge on the prevention strategies of Malaria among infants at the Buea Regional Hospital.

The researcher used a non-experimental quantitative descriptive research design to achieve the research objectives. The study was comprised of parents of children suffering from malaria in the regional hospital Buea. A sample of 102 parents was conveniently picked to represent the sample for the study.

Data was collected using questionnaires. After data was collected, it was cleaned checked for completeness after which it was exported to spss for analysis. In this survey, a self-developed questionnaire was used as data collection tool. Results from this study revealed that parents had adequate knowledge on the risk factors and prevention strategies of malaria in the Buea Regional Hospital.


1.1. Background to the study

Malaria is a life-threatening disease caused by parasites that are transmitted to people through the bites of infected female Anopheles mosquitoes. It is preventable and curable. In 2020, there were an estimated 241 million cases of malaria worldwide. The estimated number of malaria deaths stood at 627,000 in 2020 World Health Organization (2021).

Malaria has been a scourge of humanity since antiquity and remains so today. Despite being preventable and treatable, malaria continues to have a devastating impact on people’s health and livelihoods around the world in 2019, about 4 billion people were at risk of the disease in 87 countries World Health Organization (2020).

Over the past twenty years, the scale-up of malaria control efforts has led to marked reductions in morbidity and mortality. However, global progress has slowed in recent years, particularly in the WHO African Region, which accounted for 94% of the world’s 229 million cases in 2019 (Okiring et al, 2022).

The world is now committed to an ambitious goal for malaria elimination by 2040-2050 using cost-effective participatory public health interventions Abamecha et al, (2021), Malaria remains the major cause of disease and death in the world, especially among infants and pregnant women Sachs, J. and Malaney, P. (2002), Hviid, L. (2007) Corbel, V. and Henry, M.C. (2011). Some population groups are at considerably higher risk of contracting malaria, and developing severe disease, than others.

These include infants, children under 5 years of age, pregnant women and patients with HIV/AIDS, as well as non-immune migrants, mobile populations and travelers World Health Organization (2021). In Yemen, where is 60% of the total population living in malarious areas, the disease remains a significant health problem (Al-Mekhlafi et al, 2011). Malaria has historically been a major public health concern in Yemen, noted to be the country of highest prevalence in the Eastern Mediterranean Region.

Three Plasmodium species (P. falciparum,P. vivax and P.malaria) are reported in Yemen with P. falciparum being the predominant species (Alkadi et al 2002). As more and more children attend school, governments are increasingly recognizing the importance of child health for educational achievement (Bundy et al,2000, Ayi et al 2010). School-age children represent (25%) of Yemen’s population and an increased proportion of these children are going to school, who could benefit from a systematic approach to school-based malaria control World Health Organization (2007).

The vast majority of estimated cases (80%) and deaths (91%) occur in sub-Saharan Africa and the vast majority of deaths (86%) occur in children <5 years of age. Malaria remains inextricably linked with poverty The human and economic costs associated with the declining quality of life, consultations, treatments, hospitalizations and other events related to malaria are enormous and often lead to low productivity and loss of income.

Children aged less than five years and pregnant women are the people most vulnerable to dying of malaria or suffering serious consequences of the disease, especially in regions where transmission is intense. Children are most vulnerable because they have not acquired immunity to the disease, while maternal susceptibility to malaria infection during pregnancy may be related to the physiological immunosuppression that occurs during gestation (Menendez C, 1995).

Malaria infection during pregnancy can have adverse effects on both mother and foetus, including maternal anaemia, foetal loss, premature delivery, intrauterine growth retardation, and delivery of low birth-weight infants which is a risk factor for death. In children under five, the adverse effects include: convulsions, anaemia, coma and death.

Preventing malaria is of prime importance in reducing the rates of morbidity and mortality in the country. Malaria is responsible for 31% of consultations, 44% of hospitalizations and 18% of deaths occurring in health facilities in the country. In children less than 5 years, 41% of deaths are due to malaria.If malaria is appropriately prevented, the individual, family and the state will save lots of resources that will improve the standards of living of the general population.

The practice of malaria preventive measures has been related to the level of knowledge and belief of people. The understanding of the possible causes, modes of transmission and decision about adoption of preventive and control measures vary from community to community and among individual households (Legesse Y et al,2007). The current emphasis on malaria control is centred on community-based strategies. In order to prepare for a successful malaria control program it is necessary to evaluate the level of awareness, attitudes and practices of people living in an at risk area.

This will help to find ways to improve collaboration with the public health sector and also involve the full participation of the community in surveillance and control activities such as the use of ITNs/ long lasting insecticide treated bed nets. Capacity needs to be built in residents of such areas to empower them with adequate knowledge aimed at behaviour change and selection of appropriate control measures against malaria. This could be done through mother and child health programs.

There have been several reports about knowledge, attitude, and practice relating to malaria and its control from different parts of Africa. Nkuo-Akenji et al (2005) also reported that an adequate knowledge of mothers of under-fives about malaria had a great correlation with reduced morbidity and mortality among children less than five in Bolifamba, Cameroon. However, a lot of misconceptions concerning malaria still exist in such areas.

The control of malaria by the National Malaria Control Program (NMCP) in Cameroon involves among others vector control such as; combining treated bed net use and indoor residual spraying which are locally improved with larvae control and environmental management, free distribution of intermittent preventive treatment (sulphadoxine-pyrimethamine) to pregnant women and free treatment of children aged under five with artemisinin based combination therapy. However, report indicates control of malaria in pregnant women in the South West Region could hardly reach 20% coverage of the population.

As such, practices for the control of malaria have been unsatisfactory despite the serious adverse effects of the disease in the BHD in the South West Region. Reported adverse effects of the disease such as anaemia may range from 14% in adults Takem et al ( 2010) to 80 % in children thereby necessitating an evaluation of the consciousness of the disease.

1.2. Problem Statement

As was outlined above, malaria mortality and related complications in infant are important health problems in Cameroon. This is in line with the realities in the developing world where malaria is endemic. For a long time now, malaria has been responsible for the dead of many infants in Buea.

Every year, Cameroon registers around 6 million cases of malaria, and our health facilities record about 4000 deaths, most of which occur in children below the age of 5 (Hedwig Eposi N et al., 2019). However, not all cases and deaths are recorded, and WHO estimates that about 11000 people die from malaria in Cameroon every year.

Around 30% of all out-patient visits to health care facilities are for malaria, making it a disease of importance in our country (WHO 2023). This health burden places pressure on the limited health care budget of Cameroon. The worsening situation has been attributed to a number of factors such as, climate changes, increasing resistance to anti-malarial drugs; weak health systems, poor access to health care facilities, wrong attitude; inadequate knowledge on the causes and prevention of the disease, among others.

In order to reduce child mortality, it is essential to investigate parents’ knowledge of risk factors and prevention of malaria in Cameroon particularly in the Regional Hospital Buea.

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