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Impact of Health Education in the Prevention and Control of Malaria among Pregnant Women in Akwa Ibom State

Impact of Health Education in the Prevention and Control of Malaria among Pregnant Women in Akwa Ibom State

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Abstract

This study was made to determine the importance of health education in the prevention of malaria among pregnant women in Ikot Ekpene Local Government Area. To guide the study, three (3) objectives were set thus: to identify the causes of malaria among pregnant women; to examine the effects of malaria among pregnant women; and to determine the importance of health education in the prevention and control of malaria among pregnant women in Ikot Ekpene Local Government Area.

Research questions were formulated, and related literatures were reviewed based on the set objectives. Orem’s self-care model was used in the study. The study adopted a descriptive survey method with a sample of 100 respondent selected using simple random sampling. Data were collected through questionnaire and analysed using simple percentages and presented in frequency tables.

Findings revealed that female anopheles mosquito is the root cause of malaria during pregnancy, especially when they are exposed to mosquito bite. This infection leads to serious complications which may also lead to death. Findings also revealed that to curb this menace, health education is the key. Based on these findings, conclusion was drawn and recommendations were also made.

Impact of Health Education in the Prevention and Control of Malaria among Pregnant Women in Akwa Ibom State 

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

1.1    Background to the Study

Malaria is a mosquito-borne infectious disease affecting humans and other animals caused by parasitic protozoans (a group of single-celled microorganisms) belonging to the Plasmodium type. Malaria is transmitted to humans through the bite of an infected female Anopheles spp. mosquito. Malaria is a parasitic disease caused by one of four species of Plasmodium to which humans are susceptible (Plasmodium falciparum, P. vivax, P. malariae or P. ovale). Malaria infections can range in their level of severity.

In human malaria P. falciparum is the most virulent and the most likely to result in death. Malaria causes symptoms that typically include fever, feeling tired, vomiting, and headaches (Caraballo, 2014). According to World Health Organization (2014), in severe cases, malaria can cause yellow skin, seizures, coma, or death. Symptoms usually begin ten to fifteen days after being bitten. If not properly treated, people may have recurrences of the disease months later. In those who have recently survived an infection, re-infection usually causes milder symptoms.

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Today malaria is found throughout the tropical and sub-tropical regions of the world and causes more than 300 to 500 million acute illness and at least one million deaths annually. Approximately, 40% of the world’s population, mostly those living in the poorest countries, is at risk of malaria. It affects five times as many people as Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS), leprosy, measles and tuberculosis combined.

Malaria is the most prevalent parasitic endemic disease in Africa, which is preventable, treatable and curable, yet it remains one of the major health problems in Nigeria. The malaria situation in the country is deteriorating despite numerous interventions that have been instituted so far. The obstacles to the success of these interventions are socio-cultural, economic and political in nature. Malaria is currently the most important cause of death and disability in the country (Gramicia, 2008; WHO, 2010).

Malaria is a worldwide public health problem. Of the estimated 300 million cases each year worldwide, more than 90% occur in Sub-Saharan Africa. Malaria infection during pregnancy is an enormous public health problem, with substantial risks for the mother, her foetus and the neonate. Women are four times as likely to get sick from malaria if they are pregnant and twice as likely to die from the disease.

Impact of Health Education in the Prevention and Control of Malaria among Pregnant Women in Akwa Ibom State

Malaria and pregnancy are mutually aggravating conditions. The physiological changes of pregnancy and the pathological changes due to malaria have a synergistic effect on the course of each other, thus making life difficult for the mother, the child and the treating physician (WHO, 2010).

Caraballo (2014) maintained that modern medicine has tended to interpret health in terms of medical interventions, and to over-emphasize the importance of health education. It is important to promote the concept of health education as a result of the interaction of human beings and their total environment.

Early treatment, which is one of the cornerstones of malaria control, depends upon prompt recognition of symptoms and signs at the home level, this can be achieved through health education. It is at this level that individuals and caregivers recognize illness and decide on treatment options.

According to World Health Organization (2014), health education is any combination of learning experiences designed to help individuals and communities improve their health, by increasing their knowledge or influencing their attitudes. The ultimate aim of health education is to ensure that individuals, families, communities and health workers are taking preventive measures to prevent disease, improve on their recognition of malaria and use of antimalarial drugs rationally.

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As stated by Ajayi (2009), health education has long been considered an important approach in the implementation of community-based malaria prevention and control interventions in sub-Saharan Africa. Health education in malaria prevention and control interventions traditionally have been championed through radio education, television and newspaper advertisements, talk shows and documentary series. Live concerts and musical shows have been used in communities to educate people about malaria prevention and control.

More recently, a number of malaria interventions have utilized participatory techniques in educating communities in malaria interventions. Community Health Workers (CHWs) have also served as health educators in the promotion and education of the appropriate use of Insecticide Treated Nets (ITNs), Intermittent Presumptive Treatment in pregnancy (IPTp) and home base management of malaria (HMM). Other malaria interventions have utilized community volunteers to educate beneficiaries resulting in increased uptake of interventions. As such, health education is very importance in the prevention and control of malaria among pregnant women (WHO, 2014).

Impact of Health Education in the Prevention and Control of Malaria among Pregnant Women in Akwa Ibom State

1.2    Statement of the Problem

Malaria episodes are on the increase worldwide, regionally and locally despite widespread programmes on malaria prevention. Malaria in pregnancy remains an obstetric, social and medical problem that requires multidisciplinary and multidimensional solutions. Malaria in pregnancy is one of the major causes of maternal morbidity, mortality and infant mortality globally, regionally and in Nigeria (WHO, 2011).

Malaria and pregnancy are mutually aggravating conditions. The non-immune and HIV positive pregnant women are usually the most affected. Pregnant women are particularly vulnerable to malaria as pregnancy reduces a woman’s immunity to malaria, making her more susceptible to malaria infection and increasing the risk of illness, severe anaemia, puerperal sepsis and death. For the unborn child, maternal malaria increases the risk of spontaneous abortion, stillbirth, premature delivery and low birth weight which is a leading cause of child mortality.

Pregnant women in the study area experience a variety of adverse consequences from malaria infection including maternal anaemia, placental accumulation of parasites, low birth weight (LBW) from pre-maturity and intrauterine growth retardation (IUGR), fetal parasite exposure and congenital infection, and infant mortality (IM).

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The risk of malaria infection during pregnancy increased due to lack of knowledge on prevention and control of malaria. This prompted the researcher to focus her study on the importance of health education in the prevention and control of malaria among pregnant women in Ikot Ekpene Local Government Area.

1.3    Objectives of the Study

The broad objective of the study is to determine the importance of health education in the prevention and control of malaria among pregnant women in Ikot Ekpene Local Government Area.

The specific objectives of the study are as follows:

  1. To identify the causes of malaria among pregnant women in Ikot Ekpene Local Government Area.
  2. To examine the effects of malaria among pregnant women in Ikot Ekpene Local Government Area.
  3. To determine the importance of health education in the prevention and control of malaria among pregnant women in Ikot Ekpene Local Government Area.

 1.4   Research Questions

  1. What are the causes of malaria among pregnant women in Ikot Ekpene Local Government Area?
  2. What are the effects of malaria among pregnant women in Ikot Ekpene Local Government Area?
  3. How important is health education in the prevention and control of malaria among pregnant women in Ikot Ekpene Local Government Area?

1.5    Significance of the Study

This study is set to discuss the importance of health education in the prevention and control of malaria among pregnant women in Ikot Ekpene Local Government Area. Therefore, it is hoped that it will create awareness to pregnant mothers on the causes and effects of malaria and how health education is an important tool to prevent and control the harmful effects of malaria  during pregnancy.

It will be of great benefits to health workers working in Ikot Ekpene Local Government Area to educate pregnant mothers on the possible measures to prevent malaria during pregnancy. It will also help Governments to take necessary action so as to help pregnant mothers.

1.6    Scope of the Study

The study focuses on the importance of health education in the prevention and control of malaria among pregnant women and is delimited to Ikot Ekpene Local Government Area.

Mr. Harrison

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