More than 90% of deaths due to malaria occur in Sub-Saharan Africa where it kills a child below five years every 30seconds. In Cameroon, malaria accounts for 40-45% of medical consultations, 57% of hospitalization days and 40% of mortality among children below 5 years. The objective of this study was to understand how people recognize malaria, its cause, prevention and modifiable risky behaviours that are important in planning approaches for its control. Questionnaire was administered to inhabitants of Ndu in a cross-sectional study. The respondent’s consent was sought and those who could not read, write or understand English language were communicated to in the local ‘Limbum’ dialect. Data was analysed using SPSS. Majority (97.6%) [95% confidence interval (CI): 95.7-99.5%] of the 253 respondents knew at least a symptom of malaria. The commonest symptom mentioned was headache (15%). Seventy (27.7%) participants knew the cause of malaria to be mosquito bites. Incorrect causes of malaria cited included bad whether (9.5%), curse from an elder (7.1%), witchcraft (3.5%), bad food (9.0%), unclean water (5.9%) and drinking alcoholics (2.4%). 153(60.5%) [95% CI:54.5-66.5%]respondents practiced a correct malaria preventive measure. Prominent correct preventive measures stated included environmental sanitation (21.3%), aerosol insecticides (10.3%), mosquito coil (7.9%), chemoprophylaxis (5.9%), mosquito net (1.2%) and traditional medicines (13.8%).Incorrect malaria preventive methods included avoiding the early morning hot sunrays (9.5%). Malaria prevention was related to the educational status of the participants (p=0.04). Proper health education messages on malaria determinants are required to improve upon the understanding of the disease.
Keywords: Malaria, knowledge, practices, cause, signs and symptoms, prevention, Cameroon.
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