Community concepts of malaria-related illness with and without convulsions in southern GhanaReport as inadecuate

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Malaria Journal

, 4:47

First Online: 27 September 2005Received: 08 June 2005Accepted: 27 September 2005


BackgroundMalaria, both with or without convulsions, is a serious hardship for people living in endemic areas, especially in sub-Saharan Africa. Community references to malaria, however, may encompass other conditions, which was collectively designated malaria-related illness MRI. Inasmuch as the presence or absence of convulsions reportedly affects timely help-seeking for malaria, a local comparison of these conditions is needed to inform malaria control.

MethodsVignette-based EMIC interviews insider-perspective interviews for MRI with convulsions convulsion positive, MRI-CP and without convulsions convulsion negative, MRI-CN were developed to study relevant features of MRI-related experience, meaning and behaviour in two rural communities in Ghana. These semi-structured interviews elicited both qualitative narrative and categorical codes for quantitative analysis. Interviews with 201 respondents were conducted.

ResultsThe conditions depicted in the vignettes were well recognized by respondents and named with various local terms. Both presentations were considered serious, but MRI-CP was more frequently regarded potentially fatal than MRI-CN. More than 90.0% of respondents in both groups acknowledged the need to seek outside help. However, significantly more respondents advised appropriate help-seeking within 24 p = 0.01 and 48 p = 0.01 hours for MRI-CP. Over 50.0% of respondents responding to questions about MRI-CP identified MRI-CN as a cause of convulsions.

ConclusionLocal comparison of MRI-CP and MRI-CN based on vignettes found a similar profile of reported categories of perceived causes, patterns of distress, help-seeking and preventive measures for both presentations. This differs from previous findings in sub-Saharan Africa, which assert communities regard the two conditions to be unrelated. The perceived relationships should be acknowledged in formulating strategies to control malaria through timely help-seeking and treatment to reduce childhood mortality.

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Author: Collins K Ahorlu - Kwadwo A Koram - Cynthia Ahorlu - Don de Savigny - Mitchell G Weiss


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