Health information needs of caretakers of orphans at Mphatso Orphan Day Care Center in Lilongwe, Malawi.
Msosa, Annie Nancy.
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Introduction: the number of orphans world wide including Malawi, has increased greatly due to the Acquired Immune-Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS). The increased number of orphans has led to the development of community based strategies for continuity of care to orphans. People in various communities offer themselves as volunteers to care for the orphans with an aim to providing the best care possible. Due to the increased number of orphans, the caretakers are challenged in the provision of care, to promote the health status of the children. Purpose: The purpose of the study was to determine the knowledge and health information needs of caretakers in orphan care at the Mphatso day care centre in Lilongwe, Malawi. Methodology: A descriptive qualitative approach was used to determine the knowledge and health information needs of caretakers of orphans. Using a descriptive qualitative research method, the researcher interviewed eight participants working as volunteers at Mphatso Orphan Day Care Centre in Lilongwe, Malawi. Data analysis: In the study, a general content analysis approach was used. In this approach, the audio taped data were transcribed verbatim and translated from Chichewa to English soon after data collection prior to the next day of interview. Transcribing verbatim was done by listening to the tape recorded interviews several times until all the data were captured. Data were thereafter, displayed, reduced and organized into categories and sub categories. Results: Results generated from the study revealed that the caretakers benefit from training prior to the adoption of the caring role. The caretakers were also knowledgeable about the health challenges of the orphans, the concept of caring and health information needs that can help them provide the best care possible to the orphans. Conclusion: Children are facing the tragedy oflosing one or both parents to AIDS. Ifone parent is infected with HIV, there is a high probability that the other parent is also infected and so the entire family faces the threat of illness and later on death. Despite the death of these parents, the children left behind require the continuity of care. Volunteers shoulder the responsibility of caring for the children left by the deceased families. As such, there is need to support those who have dedicated their time to the orphans. Apart from material and financial resources, there is need to support the caretakers of orphans in institutions of care with health information relevant to orphan care.