Colleagues[i] from the Johns Hopkins Center for Communications Programs (CCP), the US President’s Malaria Initiative and the Ministry of Public Health in Madagascar, presented a poster today at the American Society of Tropical Medicine 64th Annual Conference in Philadelphia. Their findings on malaria treatment in Madagascar follow.
According to Madagascar’s 2013 Malaria Indicator Survey, malaria prevalence among children aged 6-59 months was 9.1% (microscopy). Prompt diagnosis and treatment of malaria is critical for minimizing complications and ensuring complete recovery.
In Madagascar, Artemisinin-based Combination Therapy (ACT) is the recommended treatment for uncomplicated malaria. Using survey data collected in 2014 from eight districts. We assessed the socio-demographic, ideational and community factors associated with prompt treatment of fever with ACT among children aged less than five years.
The data showed that about one quarter (24.4%) of households had a child with fever during the two weeks prior to the survey. About three quarters of female caregivers reported that they sought treatment for their child with fever.
Nonetheless, only about one fifth of the children were reportedly tested for malaria during their sickness: from 4.7% in the Highlands transmission zone to 30% in the Equatorial zone. Overall, less than one tenth (8.9%) of caregivers reported that their child sick with fever in the last two weeks received prompt ACT, varying from 5.4% in the Highland transmission zone to 16.2% in the Equatorial zone.
The factors associated with prompt ACT treatment include district of residence, perceived susceptibility, and malaria treatment ideation (derived from treatment-related perceived self-efficacy, attitudes, and interpersonal communication; perceived response efficacy of malaria diagnostic test, and knowledge of ACT).
The data also showed that female caregivers resident in higher transmission disctricts (Manakara – Equatorial zone; Morombe – Tropical zone) were more likely to obtain prompt ACT treatment for their children compared to their peers resident in lower transmission district of Miarinarivo (Highlands). A high sense of perceived susceptibility to malaria was associated with decreased odds of prompt treatment while high scores for treatment ideation increased the odds.
Programs should continue promoting prompt treatment for malaria targeting both demand and supply sides. The delay in appropriate treatment associated with perceived susceptibility to malaria indicates the need to intensify efforts to strengthen self-efficacy for prompt malaria treatment in areas where malaria is common. A comprehensive program to promote prompt treatment should address the treatment ideation elements assessed in this study.
[i] Stella O. Babalola, Grace Awantang, Nan Lewicky, Michael Toso, Sixte Zigirumugabe, Arsene Ratsimbasoa, Monique Vololona