Background: The African Program for Onchocerciasis Control (APOC) has been working with ultimate goal of reducing the public health and socio-economic problems associated with onchocerciasis within a period of 12-15 years. Although dedicated community engagement is crucial for the success of the program, there is little/no information on the levels of community's knowledge, attitude and practice about onchocerciasis as well as about the ongoing control program in Ethiopia. In this study, we have assessed the level of knowledge, attitude and practice of Quara district residents about onchocerciasis and the current control strategies in the area.
Methods: This community-based cross-sectional study was conducted between October 2012 and January 2013 in Quara District, Amhara Regional State, North West of Ethiopia. The study participants were recruited from randomly selected kebeles (small administrative units) of the study area and were interviewed about onchocerciasis and about community directed treatment with ivermectin (CDTI) using structured questionnaire. The collected data were double entered into a data entry file using EpiData software, V.3.1. The data were transferred to SPSS soft-ware V.16 and analyzed according to the different variables.
Results: Out of 418 respondents, 401 (95.9%) of the respondents have heard about onchocerciasis (locally known as 'wara') and 11.2% said that they knew about the etiology of the disease, which was named as filarial worm. However, 356 (88.8%) had at least one misconception about the causative agent of onchocerciasis. More than half (69.4%) knew that the transmission of the disease is related to black fly biting. Overall, 93.3% participants believed that onchocerciasis is preventable, of whom 49.5% indicated use of drug as the means of preventing the disease. Majority (95.5%) of the participants perceived CDTI as very useful program.
Conclusion: Although onchocerciasis is endemic disease in the study area, large proportion of the community had conspicuous misconceptions in all issues about its causation, transmission and preventive methods. This could affect the success of the CDTIP in the present study area. Therefore we recommend increasing the awareness about onchocerciasis in the area through community-based campaigns during drug distribution with especial focuses on females and age group less than 35 years".