Study Contributes New Knowledge to National Malaria Control Programme
A study recently completed by UKZN Masters student, Mr Ezra Mutegeki, examined the knowledge women living in the Mgedula Village of Jozini in the uMkhanyakude District have about malaria as well as their attitudes and practices towards the disease.
Mutegeki presented the study at the College of Health Sciences (CHS) Annual Research Symposium where he highlighted that more than 80 percent of malaria cases presenting in KwaZulu-Natal were recorded in the uMkhanyakude District.
Because the National Malaria Control Programme (NMCP) had set the high target of eradicating malaria completely among affected populations, it was essential that such research investigated those people’s knowledge, attitudes and practices regarding the disease.
Supervised by CHS Dean of Research, Professor Moses Chimbari, Mutegeki’s study was a public health research project, conducted in order to provide the NMCP with up-to-date information to help guide the development and implementation of effective and comprehensive interventions among women at a community level.
It was found, in line with the key measures implemented by the NMCP, that the study population possessing basic malaria-related knowledge received visits from a community health worker and had a history of previous malaria infection and high literacy levels.
The study found that positive malaria attitudes and good practice were associated with high malaria knowledge and high literacy levels. It also discovered that high levels of basic malaria knowledge positively influenced the health-seeking behaviour among study participants.
Mutegeki said the population’s limited knowledge of malaria needed to be addressed in order to positively modify their attitudes, practices and health-seeking behaviour.
He said the fact that malaria was the biggest cause of death in his home country of Uganda influenced him to study the disease with the aim of helping to control infectious diseases in sub-Saharan Africa, especially malaria.
‘I became aware that knowledge, attitude and practices played a part in South Africa’s success story in the fight against malaria, and how similar successes could be achieved in other countries.’
Mutegeki holds a Bachelor of Science Honours degree and further qualifications including Intermediate and Advanced Project Management as well as a Postgraduate Diploma in Public Health.
He said UKZN was a reputable university ‘ranked highly in Africa for conducting research and the support it renders to young researchers. The support from senior researchers at UKZN is exceptional’.
Mutegeki said he looked forward to conducting further research on malaria at a PhD level. Professor Chimbari, Dr Steven Knight and members of the Malaria and Bilharzia in Southern Africa (MABISA) project had given him great support and inspired him in his work.