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Malaria: Ethnomedical perceptions and practice in an Adangbe farming community and implications for control


  • Agyepong, Irene Akua


Malaria is a parasitic disease about which there is much bio-medical knowledge on causation, prevention, treatment and control. Attempts at eradication, as well as control in the past has been mainly a technical and bio-medical endeavour. With the policy shift from world wide eradication of malaria to control as part of primary health care, there is increasing interest in studying all possible determinants of the problem at local as well as regional levels as part of the search for an effective intervention. This paper presents the results of a study into community perceptions and practice relating to causation, treatment and prevention of malaria in a rural Adangbe farming community in Southern Ghana. Malaria is common in this community. Crude parasite rates among adolescent girls (10-19 years old) in the community were 49% towards the end of the major rainy season, and 47% in the early dry season. The symptoms and signs of the disease are readily described by lay people as well as traditional healers. Diagnosis and treatment of uncomplicated episodes of malaria at home, according to ethnomedical perceptions, is the predominant behaviour in this community. Very few cases of uncomplicated malaria are sent to health facilities. Ethnomedical perceptions of malaria causation and treatment on which this self care is based, are different from conventional biomedical ones. Malaria is perceived as an environmentally related disease caused by excessive contact with external heat which upsets the blood equilibrium. Many community members do not connect it with the mosquito in theory or practice. Implications for approaches to control are discussed.

Suggested Citation

  • Agyepong, Irene Akua, 1992. "Malaria: Ethnomedical perceptions and practice in an Adangbe farming community and implications for control," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 35(2), pages 131-137, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:35:y:1992:i:2:p:131-137

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    Cited by:

    1. Mbonye, Anthony Kabanza & Neema, Stella & Magnussen, Pascal, 2006. "Perceptions on use of sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine in pregnancy and the policy implications for malaria control in Uganda," Health Policy, Elsevier, vol. 77(3), pages 279-289, August.
    2. Brian Blackburn & Aprajit Mahajan & Alessandro Tarozzi & Joanne Yoong, 2009. "Bednets, Information and Malaria in Orissa," Discussion Papers 08-025, Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research.
    3. Dzator, Janet & Asafu-Adjaye, John, 2004. "A study of malaria care provider choice in Ghana," Health Policy, Elsevier, vol. 69(3), pages 389-401, September.

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