Community knowledge, attitudes and practices towards tuberculosis and its treatment in Mpwapwa district, central Tanzania

P E Mangesho, E Shayo, W H Makunde, G B S Keto, C I Mandara, M L Kamugisha, A M Kilale, D R S Ishengoma
Tanzania Health Research Bulletin 2007, 9 (1): 38-43
Tuberculosis (TB) is one of the leading causes of adult mortality with 32% of the global population infected with Mycobacterium tuberculosis. The current control of TB depends mainly on case management using the Direct-Observed Treatment, Short-course (DOTs) regimen. Despite the measures taken, the disease burden is still on increase especially in the developing countries including Tanzania. Correct knowledge and positive perception of the community towards TB and its management is a prerequisite to early treatment seeking. This study was carried out in Mpwapwa district, central Tanzania, to assess the knowledge, attitudes and practice as regards to TB and its treatment. Focus group discussions involving men and women were conducted in six villages. Results show that TB was an important public health problem. However, community knowledge on its cause was poor. Symptoms of TB as mentioned by the community included persistent cough and weight loss. TB was reported to be transmitted mainly through air. Self medication was the first most preferred option, whereas health care facility consultation was the last one. Focus group discussants knew that TB cure requires a 8-month period of treatment. Friends and relatives were the main source of TB information in the community. In conclusion, rural communities of Mpwapwa District have a low knowledge on the causes and the transmission of tuberculosis which is a likely cause of the delay in seeking treatment. An intensive appropriate community health education is required for a positive behavioural change in tuberculosis control.

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