Malaria in children and women of childbearing age: infection prevalence, knowledge and use of malaria prevention tools in the province of Nyanga, Gabon
Background There is little information on the social perception of malaria and the use of preventative measures in Gabon, especially in rural areas. Adequate knowledge of malaria prevention and control can help in reducing the burden of malaria among vulnerable groups, particularly pregnant women and children under 5 years old living in malaria-endemic settings. This study was designed to assess the prevalence of malaria and the knowledge and attitude towards this disease in households in
... households in Nyanga Province. Methods A cross-sectional study was conducted to assess malaria knowledge, prevention practices and prevalence of the malaria infection in five departments of Nyanga Province. Plasmodial infection was diagnosed in children ≤ 5 years of age and women aged 15-49 years using rapid diagnostic tests. A questionnaire was administered randomly to women aged 15–49 years and to the parents or guardians of children aged ≤ 5 years in 535 households during a 2-week period in March 2018. Overall, the respondents' socio-demographic characteristics, knowledge of malaria, malaria prevention practices and malaria prevalence were evaluated and compared across the five departments. Results Data from a total of 1,307 participants were included in this study, including 631 women of childbearing age (61 of them pregnant) and 676 children. Practically the entire (97.7%) interviewed population had heard about malaria and attributed the cause of malaria to a mosquito bite (95.7%). This survey revealed that the reported rate of reported bed-net use was 73.3%. The study observed an average malaria parasite prevalence of 13.9%. All departmental capitals of Nyanga Province had a significant level of malaria infection except for Mayumba where no plasmodial infection was found. Conclusion High malaria prevalence is found in the departmental capital cities of Nyanga Province. This study reveals that respondents have a high knowledge of the malaria symptoms, its mode of transmission and preventive measures. Despite this high level of knowledge of the disease and its preventive measures, the incidence of malaria remains relatively high in this rural community highlighting the need for other types of interventions.