Malaria in pregnancy, risk perceptions and care seeking practices among adolescents in Mukono district Uganda

Int J Adolesc Med Health. 2006 Oct-Dec;18(4):561-73. doi: 10.1515/ijamh.2006.18.4.561.


Malaria in pregnancy is a serious health problem that contributes greatly to maternal morbidity and mortality. This study investigated risk perceptions and care seeking practices for malaria in pregnancy among adolescents. Data were collected using focus group disusions(FGDs) and key informant interviews (KIIs). Results showed that malaria was perceived as the leading cause of morbidity and mortality among pregnant women. However, adolescent girls did not consider themselves at risk of malaria even when pregnant. Anaemia and low birth weight were not well understood and not related to malaria in pregnancy. Self-medication was common including over the counter drugs, herbs or a combination of both. When this failed, several options were taken such as seeking care at health units. People preferred to visit heath units with laboratory facilities, since investigations were valued and perceived useful. These investigations were locally known as okukebera omusayi, which translates to examining blood This local term is non-specific and used when patients are referred to laboratories to investigate diseases like HIV, syphilis and malaria. The use of this term however, discourages some people who are afraid of knowing their HIV status. Similarly, the notion that HIV/AIDS is spread thorough contaminated needles and syringes discourages people from giving blood for laboratory tests. In addition, the cost of investigations, fear of pain due to pricking, and the rudeness of laboratory technicians negatively influence seeking laboratory tests. Implications of these findings include developing a health promotion package that explains the dangers of self medication and advocates prompt seeking for malaria treatment especially for adolescents and primigravidae. Policy decisions to introduce rapid diagnostic kits (RDTs) in primary care units including drug shops are required in order to improve effective treatment of malaria.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Female
  • Focus Groups
  • Health Behavior
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Health Policy*
  • Humans
  • Infection Control / methods
  • Malaria / prevention & control*
  • Malaria / psychology
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care*
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy in Adolescence*
  • Rural Health
  • Uganda