Perceived malaria in the population of an urban setting: a skipped reality in Dakar, Senegal

Type Journal Article - Malaria journal
Title Perceived malaria in the population of an urban setting: a skipped reality in Dakar, Senegal
Volume 11
Issue 1
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2012
Page numbers 1-8
Background: Urban malaria remains a public health problem. Dakar is located in a low endemic area. However,
anti-malarial drugs consumption is reported to be high despite the decline of malaria announced by health
authorities. The objective of the present study was to assess the burden of reported malaria attacks (RMAs) in 2008
and to describe care-seeking behaviours in the population of Dakar, Senegal.
Methods: In this cross-sectional study, 2,952 households selected from 50 sites were visited. In each household, a
women and a child between two and 10 years old were interviewed about a malaria episode that occurred in
2008. The following information was recorded: age, education level, sex (for children), type of care seeking, method
of diagnosis, use of anti-malarial treatment, place of medication purchase, bed net use, malaria-related deaths in the
family, and perceptions of the frequency of mosquito bites. After a description of the variables in each subsample, a
Pearson’s chi-square test was used to compare proportions, and logistic regression was performed to identify the
association between RMAs and other covariates.
Results: Among women, 31.8% reported a malaria attack in 2008; among children, the rate of malaria attacks
reported by mothers or caretakers was 39.0%. With regard to care-seeking, 79.5% of women and 81.5% of children
with a RMA had visited health facilities (HFs). Younger women and children under five years old were more likely to
visit a HF (P<0.001). Presumptive diagnosis was the primary method that was used to identify malaria in HFs. For
those who had visited a HF, the rate of anti-malarial treatment was 77% in women and 60% in children. Finally,
43.6% of women and 42.0% of children declared the use of bed nets. In a multivariate analysis, the malaria-related
death of a relative and perceptions of mosquito bites were significantly associated with RMAs in women. In
children, age was associated with RMAs.
Conclusion: The frequent perceptions of the occurrence of malaria in the population were confirmed at the HF by
the high presumptive diagnosis of health professionals. Despite the decline of malaria that has been announced by
health authorities, the population will continue to complain of malaria and seek care directly at private pharmacies.
This situation may sustain the circulation of anti-malarial drugs and increase the risk of an emergence of
anti-malarial resistance.

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