Health seeking behaviour in malaria treatment by the fishing community of Rusinga Island, Western Kenya
Literature on health and diseases indicate that people perceive diseases variously. People develop their own views and beliefs about the causes, symptoms, modes of transmission and therapy choices, which then influence their health seeking behaviour. The main objective of this study was to explore health seeking behaviour in relation to malaria among the fishermen on Rusinga Island on Lake Victoria Kenya. This study which focused on the fishermen on Rusinga Island on Lake Victoria Kenya sought to establish the behavioural practices that are thought to predispose fishermen to malaria, the social cultural factors influencing their choices of therapy and the factors that hinder malaria prevention on this fisher folk. Quantitative data were obtained using a questionnaire from a sample of 600 randomly selected fishermen. Focus group discussion guide and key informants guide were used to collected supplementary qualitative data. Data collected was analyzed using statistical package for social scientists (SPSS) version 20. The key finding of the study was that: 94% of fishermen on Rusinga Island were aware that malaria was caused by mosquitoes but despite this, there is still a lot of ignorance and misconceptions about its causes and methods of prevention. These misconceptions have adversely influenced their healthseeking behaviour which led to delayed action and wrong therapy choices. Apart from misconceptions of the disease, other factors that hinder proper management of malaria include; lack of funds to buy malaria drugs, inaccessibility to treated mosquito bed nets, misuse of bed nets, poor infrastructure, lack of drug adherence, lack of knowledge and ignorance impacted negatively on malaria control. Despite this, over 73% of fishermen on Rusinga Island were aware of malaria and its consequences. Main sources of information on malaria were media (47%), friends (38%) and relatives (15%). It was however, not possible to establish the quality of information the respondent had on malaria. In order to manage and control malaria on Rusinga Island, this study gives programmatic recommendation that; the government (Kenya) encourages more interdisciplinary collaboration between socio-behavioural scientists, education specialists and entomologists to design evidence-based and culturally sensitive interventions that can help in management and control of malaria. This study also gives a policy recommendation that; the government needs to initiates community-based malaria control programmes that will encourage and enable community engagement in participatory learning and involvement in programme implementation and the government needs to supply and distribute free mosquito repellant jelly alongside bed nets to households in malaria endemic areas (such as Rusinga Island) since it can easily be applied by fishermen even when they are away from home at dusk and dawn. These measures will ensure that malaria is both managed and controlled among the fisher folk.