Knowledge, attitudes and perceptions of both the community and traditional healers with regard to diagnosis and treatment of malaria in KwaZulu Natal.
This study aimed at investigating the knowledge, perceptions and attitudes of both the community and traditional healers with regard to the diagnosis and treatment of malaria in KwaZulu Natal with special reference to Ndumu in the magisterial district of Ingwavuma. Ingwavuma is one of the two northern magisterial district of KwaZulu Natal Province which is regarded as the highest malaria risk district in South Africa as a whole. The area has a warm temperature, 27-32°C, which is favourable for the development of the Anopheles mosquito. The factors predisposing the community to malaria infections were the socio-economic status of the area which is characterised by poverty. unemployment, poor housing and illiteracy, cross border migration, drug resistance, the agricultural development and irrigation scheme. Efficient control measures like house spraying a residual insecticide to control malaria vector mosquitoes, passive surveillance and active case detection with definitive diagnosis and treatment in place to prevent and control the upsurge of the disease The objectives of the study were to ascertain the knowledge. attitudes and perceptions of traditional healers in regard to malaria diagnosis and treatment and that of the community in relation to malaria treatment and diagnosis by traditional healers. The ultimate objective was to identify possible forms of collaboration between the traditional and the modern health services. The study was conducted from sections 2 - 10 of Ndumu where the population was 13 047 and 1300 households. A random sample of 173 respondents from the community and 70 traditional healers were selected for interview. Qualitative and quantitative methodologies were used in order to collect numerical and descriptive information. Data was collected using semi- structured questions and two sets were made: for traditional healers and the community. The study showed that the community was well aware of the signs of malaria but their knowledge was not supported by definitive testing and diagnosis of the condition. It came out that there are forms of health services available at grass root levels for example. self - help. where an individual tried on his own to combat he offending symptoms of the disease, family support systems, where family members especially the elder member gave support and assisted during the times of ill-health, the use of traditional healers, the malaria control camp, clinics and the hospital. The community supported the idea of collaboration between healers and the malaria control team and expressed their willingness to attend the services of a trained healer. Traditional healers confirmed the fact that some community members utilize traditional healers services and also expressed their wish to see the two forms of health services working together to control malaria.