Knowledge, attitudes and practices on malaria in relation to its transmission among primary school children in Bagamoyo district, Tanzania
Mugasa, Joseph P.
Gwakisa, Paul S.
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Background. Communities’ knowledge, attitudes and practices on malaria disease often remain unobserved during malaria control efforts. In Tanzania, many studies focus on increasing community knowledge and awareness on malaria prevention but the potential participation and contribution of schoolchildren towards knowledge, attitudes and practices on malaria has received little attention. We investigated the knowledge and understanding of primary school children on malaria transmission, recognition of symptoms, treatment seeking behaviour, preventive measures and practices in order to potentially include this group in Tanzania’s malaria control efforts. Materials and methods. 125 children were recr uited fr om thr ee purposively selected primar y schools in Bagamoyo district, Tanzania. A semi-structured interview guide, including both closed and open-ended questions, was used to collect information from the participants to obtain their knowledge and understanding on malaria transmission, treatment and prevention. Results. More than half of the school children (79/125; 63.2% ) had knowledge on malaria as a disease and its transmission; 101/125 (80.8%) of the respondents reported that going to the hospital was their immediate care-seeking behaviour once they felt malaria symptoms, while 14/125 (11.2%) opted for self-medication. With regard to malaria prevention and control, 115/125 (92.0%) of the respondents reported using bednets as their main malaria prevention strategy, while 6/125 (4.8%) preferred the use of medicine, mostly artemether lumefantrine, as prophylaxis. Narratives obtained were able to explain clearly the rationale behind different options children took to treat and to protect themselves against malaria. Conclusions. Findings indicated that primary school childr en in Bagamoyo district ar e aware of malaria, its symptoms and preventive measures, although some had misconceptions and could not associate the disease with its transmission. We conclude that inclusion of school children on malaria control educational programmes could yield substantial benefits towards malaria elimination.