Community’s Perceptions of Malaria and the Underlying Interventions for its Management and Control In Jimma Town, Oromiya National Regional State

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Malaria is one of the leading causes of morbidity and mortality in Oromiya National Regional state. Its management and control depends on many factors, some of which have not been studied at the level of urban community. The objective of this study is to identify what households in Jimma Town community perceive to be the cause and symptoms of malaria and their treatment and control perceptions for malaria. A crosssectional study design was utilized employing both quantitative and qualitative data collection methods. A simple random cluster sampling procedure was used to select the ganda, after which the sample households were proportionally allocated to each ganda. Finally, interviews were conducted with 422 heads or representative of households. The study was conducted between March and April 2008. The study findings indicate that the community has multiple aetiologies for malaria. Of the 422 heads of households interviewed, 374 (88.6 percent) indicated mosquito as the cause of the disease. Other aetiological beliefs included: 269(70.4 percent) exposure to unhygienic conditions and 129(30.4 percent) cold weather as causes of malaria. And only about 3.8 percent indicated witchcraft. Many of the respondents (91.5 percent) could identify malaria by several correct symptoms. In the treatment of malaria, various health resources such as public health facilities, over-the counter medications, private clinics and herbal medicines are used. For first choice of care, many households used private health facilities. However, for poor households the other forms of treatment especially Jimma malaria control center and Jimma University Hospital seem to have been preferred. A recent strategy of malaria treatment, Home Management of Malaria, has lacked community support for its full implementation. For most 330(88 percent) of households the use of insecticide treated bed net was mentioned as the most widely practiced preventive method for malaria. Among these only 71.1 percent the households own the net currently. Weak intersectoral linkage, poverty, population movement and poor environmental management appear to be factors worsening malaria management and control in the Town. Thus, understanding community perceptions of aetiology, symptom identification and treatment and control of malaria is an important step towards the control of the disease