UBC Faculty Research and Publications

Caregivers’ treatment-seeking behaviors and predictors of whether a child received an appropriate antimalarial treatment: a household survey in rural Uganda Kassam, Rosemin; Sekiwunga, Richard; Collins, John B; Tembe, Juliet; Liow, Eric


Background: This study responds to a rural community’s concern that, despite national initiatives, malaria management in young children falls short of national guidelines in their district. This study aimed to: (1) describe caregivers’ treatment-seeking behaviors in the rural district of Butaleja, (2) estimate the percentage of children who received an appropriate antimalarial, and (3) determine factors that maximized the likelihood of receiving an appropriate antimalarial. Appropriate antimalarial in this study is defined as having received only the Uganda’s age-specific first-line malaria treatment for uncomplicated and severe malaria during the course of the febrile illness. Methods A household survey design was used in 2011 to interview 424 caregivers with a child aged five and under who had fever within the two weeks preceding the survey. The survey evaluated factors that included: knowledge about malaria and its treatment, management practices, decision-making, and access to artemisinin combination therapy (ACT) and information sources. Bivariate analysis, followed by logistic regression, was used to determine predictors of the likelihood of receiving an appropriate antimalarial. Results Home management was the most common first action, with most children requiring a subsequent action to manage their fever. Overall, 20.9 % of children received a blood test, 68.4 % received an antimalarial, and 41.0 % received an ACT. But closer inspection showed that only 31.6 % received an appropriate antimalarial. These results confirm that ACT usage and receipt of an appropriate antimalarial in Butaleja remain well below the 2010/2015 target of 85 %. While nine survey items differentiated significantly whether a child had or had not received an appropriate antimalarial, our logistic regression model identified four items as independent predictors of likelihood that a child would receive an appropriate antimalarial: obtaining antimalarials from regulated outlets (OR = 14.99); keeping ACT in the home for future use (OR = 6.36); reporting they would select ACT given the choice (OR = 2.31); and child’s age older than four months (OR = 5.67). Conclusions Few children in Butaleja received malaria treatment in accordance with national guidelines. This study highlighted the importance of engaging the full spectrum of stakeholders in the management of malaria in young children - including licensed and unlicensed providers, caregivers, and family members.

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