Community perceptions and attitudes on malaria case management and the role of community health workers

Collins J Owek, Elizabeth Oluoch, Juddy Wachira, Benson Estambale, Yaw A Afrane
Malaria Journal 2017 July 4, 16 (1): 272

BACKGROUND: Community Case Management of malaria (CCMm) is one of the new approaches adopted by the World Health Organization for malaria endemic countries to reduce the burden of malaria for vulnerable populations. It is based on the evidence that well-trained and supervised community health workers (CHWs) can provide prompt and adequate treatment to fever cases within 24 h to help reduce morbidity and mortality associated with malaria among under-five children. The perception and attitudes of the community members on the CHWs' role is of greater importance for acceptance of their services. The aim of the study was to assess community's perception and attitude towards CCMm and on CHWs who undertake it.

METHODS: This study was conducted in five districts in western Kenya where Community Case Management was being undertaken. This was a qualitative cross-sectional study in which in-depth interviews and focus group discussions were conducted with mothers of under-five children and key stakeholders.

RESULTS: Overall, there were more positive expressions of perceptions and attitudes of the community members towards the CCMm programme and the role of CHWs. The positive perceptions included among others; recognition and appreciation of services of CHWs, bringing health services to close proximity to the community, avoiding long queues in the health facilities, provision of health education that encourages good health practices, and promotion of positive health-seeking behaviour from within the communities. This programme is not without challenges as some of the negative perceptions expressed by the community members included the fact that some clinicians doubt the capacity of CHWs on dispensing drugs in the community, some CHWs do not keep client's secrets and mistrust of CHWs due to conflicting information by government.

CONCLUSIONS: It was evident that the community had more positive perceptions and attitudes towards the role of CHWs in CCMm than negative ones. There should however, be deliberate efforts towards sustaining the positive aspects and addressing the negative concerns raised by the community and the health care practitioners.


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