Home treatments alone or mixed with modern treatments for malaria in Finkolo AC, South Mali: reported use, outcomes and changes over 10 years

Trans R Soc Trop Med Hyg. 2015 Mar;109(3):209-13. doi: 10.1093/trstmh/tru181. Epub 2015 Jan 15.


Background: In 2003, a study in Mali showed that 87% of episodes of uncomplicated malaria were first treated at home. We investigated whether treatment-seeking patterns in Mali had changed 10 years later.

Methods: In 2013, we repeated the retrospective treatment-outcome study on 400 children with presumed malaria in the same area.

Results: Most children with reported uncomplicated malaria were still first treated at home (76% [196/258] in 2013 vs 85% in 2003; p=0.006), rather than in modern health centres (20% [52/258] in 2013 vs 12% in 2003; p=0.01). Overall, 58% of children with uncomplicated malaria were treated with herbal medicine alone, a significant increase from 24% 10 years earlier (p<0.001). This was associated with an increase in use of Argemone mexicana decoction from 8% to 26% (p<0.001), with a reported cure or improvement in 100% of cases among those aged >5 years. For severe malaria, first treatment was sought less often from a traditional healer compared with 10 years earlier (4% vs 32%; p<0.001) and more often from a modern health centre (29% vs 17%; p=0.04).

Conclusions: Two trends that emerged are that there is a greater use of modern health facilities for treatment of severe malaria, and a greater use of traditional medicine alone for treatment of uncomplicated malaria.

Keywords: Malaria; Natural products; Plasmodium; Rural health; Traditional medicines; Treatment-seeking.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Health Services / statistics & numerical data*
  • Herbal Medicine / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Malaria / drug therapy*
  • Male
  • Mali
  • Medicine, African Traditional / statistics & numerical data*
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care / statistics & numerical data*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Self Medication / trends*